Dirk Nowitzki led another balanced scoring effort with 19 points, and the Dallas Mavericks opened a franchise-record eight-game homestand by holding on for a 94-89 victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.
The Celtics trailed by double digits twice in the second half before getting within one in the final minute but couldn’t avoid an 0-15 finish on the road against the Western Conference.
The Mavericks followed their first win in more than two years over possible first-round playoff foe Oklahoma City by taking their third straight to get a season-high 14 games over .500.
Dallas didn’t have a 20-point scorer for the third time in four games, the exception being Nowitzki’s 31-point night in a win at Utah. Monta Ellis had 17 points, and Devin Harris added 12.
Jerryd Bayless had 19 points and Kris Humphries matched a season high with 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who lost their fifth straight game and 12th in the past 15.
The Mavericks went up 90-85 when Brandan Wright had a putback after three other misses, but the Celtics did the same thing at the other end, capped by a bucket from Kelly Olynyk, who had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Avery Bradley stole the ball from Ellis and went in for a dunk to make it 90-89 with 21 seconds left, but Ellis hit two free throws and Bayless missed a driving shot, got the ball back and had a second attempt blocked by Vince Carter.
Boston had four chances to get closer down 64-61 to start the fourth but missed three shots and had a turnover before Harris made a couple of free throws and Wright dunked off a feed from Carter to push the lead back to seven.
The lead was back down to four when Harris and Wright hooked for their second alley-oop dunk and Harris poked the ball away from Phil Pressey, dove for the loose ball to grab it from Olynyk and threw a pass from the floor to Nowitzki running ahead of everyone for another dunk and a 74-66 lead.
The Celtics looked like they would go down without much of a fight early, falling behind 33-24 in the second quarter when Brandan Wright had an alley-oop dunk from Devin Harris in a combination that’s getting more common. But Boston had the first of several big runs at 13-0 with baskets from five different players.
Pressey hit one of his two first-half 3-pointers, Chris Johnson scored from long range and Bradley hit a layup. After stealing a pass for a dunk, Olynyk assisted on a three-point play by Jared Sullinger, who led all scorers with 11 in the first half and finished with 13.
NOTES: Celtics G Rajon Rondo sat out on the second night of a back-to-back for the sixth time. He is skipping such games as he works his back from right knee surgery. … Celtics F Jeff Green had five points on 2-of-12 shooting a night after matching his season high with 39 in an overtime loss at New Orleans. … Green and Sullinger matched Olynyk with nine rebounds as Boston outrebounded Dallas 57-36.