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Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter too much for Rajon Rondo, Celtics 02.09.14 at 8:17 pm ET
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Jeff Green and the Celtics couldn't turn the corner against the red-hot Mavericks Sunday night. (AP)

Jeff Green and the Celtics couldn’t turn the corner against the red-hot Mavericks Sunday night. (AP)

The red-hot Dallas Mavericks weren’t about to let the Celtics match their season-high win streak.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points and Vince Carter added 14 off the bench to help the Mavericks pull away for a 102-91 win Sunday night at TD Garden. The loss snapped Boston’s three-game win streak, which was one shy of the four straight at the beginning of the season.

That win streak in November put the Celtics at 4-4. Sunday’s loss dropped Boston to 18-34.

The Celtics were led by Jeff Green with 18 points while Rajon Rondo returned from a night off Friday and scored 15 with 12 assists. Green was rumored to be trade talks between Atlanta and Celtics vice president of basketball operations Danny Ainge while Rondo’s name was again in trade rumors involving the Knicks.

The Celtics could not overcome dreadful shooting Sunday night. They were down just six at the half, 44-38, despite shooting just 27.1 percent (13-of-48) from the floor.

The Mavericks pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Boston 28-18 to take a 72-56 lead into the fourth. Avery Bradley (2-for-13), Jared Sullinger (4-for-13) and Green (6-for-15) highlighted the struggles of the Celtics. Sullinger extended his string of double-doubles to five games with 12 rebounds and 11 points, scoring a basket late in the fourth quarter to keep the streak alive.

Chris Johnson, signed to a multi-year deal on Friday, had a career high 14 off the bench for the Celtics.

Nowitizki had been averaging 28 points a game in his last six games entering Sunday’s contest but Dallas didn’t need him to be spectacular against a Celtics team that couldn’t find its offensive rhythm all night. Nowitzki was 7-for-16 from the field and his his three with 9:23 left in the fourth quarter put Dallas up, 81-58.

Dallas would build the lead to 24 in the fourth before a late Celtics run, sparked by the bench, cut the Mavs’ advantage down to nine, 98-89, with just over a minute left.

The Mavericks, who entered Sunday in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, are making a push in the highly competitive conference. Sunday’s win on the parquet was their fourth straight and six in their last seven as they improved to 31-21.

The Celtics return to action Monday night in Milwaukee against a Bucks team that is currently leading the NBA Lottery race with a league-worst 9-41 record.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki
Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley return for Celtics against Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas Mavericks at 6:01 pm ET
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The Celtics get Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley back in the lineup Sunday. They’ll need them if they stand a shot of taking down Dirk Nowitzki and the red-hot Dallas Mavericks.

Rondo and Bradley both missed Friday’s win over the Kings, which ran Boston’s winning streak to three games, one shy of their season high.

Rondo sat out with general soreness after returning from ACL surgery while Bradley missed the game after twisting his right ankle against the Sixers last Wednesday. With the team traveling to Milwaukee for Monday night’s game, it’s unlikely Rondo will play in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

“That’€™s an above-me question,” Brad Stevens answered when asked when Rondo might be cleared for such activity. “Our trainers and medical staff and [Rondo will] get together. I would think it would be sooner rather than later, but I don’€™t know want to project a timeline.”

As for Bradley, he turned his right ankle in only his second game back from a five-game absence due to a sprain of the same ankle.

“I think he just twisted it again on Wednesday,” said Stevens before Sunday’s game. “He was 100 percent when he was playing Sunday and Wednesday, then twisted it or whatever, so it’€™s almost like, instead of a reoccurring injury, he just injured it again. I don’€™t think it’€™s a lingering thing by any means.”

Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 23 points in three games in February and has led Dallas to five wins in their last six games. He scored 38 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the team’s only loss (vs. Houston) in that stretch. How do the Celtics or anyone go about slowing him down?

“Nobody can answer that question with a straight face,” said Stevens. “Don’€™t know that anybody has, don’€™t know that anybody can. You have to mix up your matchups. You have to have different people guard him. You have to guard his pick-and-rolls differently. He presents a problem if you guard it in a traditional way, just because he’€™s a great shooter.

“He’€™s a great pull-up shooter and he’s probably one of the best two-point long-range shooters in the league — one of the very few guys that’€™s probably a great great shot for. Yeah, he’€™s a tough one to guard and he’€™s really playing at a great level right now, at whatever old he is, what is he 35 years old? He’€™s not showing signs of that right now.”

Vitor Faverani (knee) will miss his fifth straight game.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki
Shortfall: Celtics come up short again in loss to Mavericks, Courtney Lee injures left ankle 03.22.13 at 11:12 pm ET
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Jason Terry had his moments against his former team Friday night in Dallas. (AP)

Jason Terry had his moments against his former team Friday night in Dallas. (AP)

Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points and Brandan Wright added a team-high 23 – 16 above his season average – as the Dallas Mavericks handed the Celtics their third straight loss, 104-94, Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Celtics have lost five of seven and three straight for the first time since losing six in a row between Jan. 16-25.

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each scored 16 for the Celtics, who fell to 36-31 on the season. Adding to Boston’s misery was a left ankle injury to Courtney Lee, who rolled the ankle late in the fourth quarter. He had to be helped off the court and to the locker room and did not play in the final minute.

In his return to Dallas for the first time since signing with the Celtics as a free agent last summer, Jason Terry was held to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. The appreciative Dallas crowd gave Terry a standing ovation when he checked into the game for the first time with 3:57 left in the first quarter. His former Mavericks teammates also applauded his returned on the Dallas bench.

The only Celtics player in double figures in the first half was Brandon Bass with 10 points. Boston had no answers for Vince Carter off the Dallas bench. Carter had 12 points in 12 minutes, a big reason the Mavericks were able to take a 55-44 halftime lead.

The Mavericks built their lead to as much as 14 twice in the second quarter.

Jordan Crawford hit a baseline three early in the third quarter and followed that up with a steal and reverse layup with 10:19 left in the fourth to cut Dallas’ lead down to six, 81-75. Crawford hit another tough shot – a baseline fadeaway – to keep the Celtics within six, 83-77, with just over nine minutes left.

But the Celtics couldn’t keep the Mavericks from responding and building the lead back to 11, 94-83, with three minutes left. Pierce hit a straightaway three with 2:59 left to cut the Dallas lead down to eight, 94-86. Green’s layup with 1:51 brought the Celtics within five, 97-92. The Celtics forced a missed shot by Carter but Knight got the rebound and kicked it to Carter, who then found O.J. Mayo, who knocked down the three to push the lead back to eight, 100-92, with 1:21 left.

Mayo then stole a pass on the next Celtics possession as the Celtics lost their third straight.

The road gets no easier on Saturday night, as the Celtics travel to Memphis to battle the Grizzlies. The Celtics return home for a Atlantic Division showdown with the Knicks on Tuesday night at the Garden.

For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry
Talking Hoops, Episode 7: Bethlehem Shoals 06.18.11 at 10:15 am ET
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On the latest version of the Talking Hoops WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery is joined by Bethlehem Shoals the founder of FreeDarko.com and co-author of The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History.

Flannery and Shoals put a wrap on the 2010-11 season by examining the Heat, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and NBA narratives, while also pondering the future of Rajon Rondo.

Listen here: Talking Hoops, Episode 7

Read More: Bethlehem Shoals, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo
Jason Kidd might just get another chance at a ring and C’s might get another chance at Mavs 02.05.11 at 10:53 am ET
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When Jason Kidd drilled a straightaway 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds remaining to give Dallas the lead in a stunning 101-97 come-from-behind win over the Celtics, no one should’ve been surprised.

Ray Allen and the Celtics weren’t and neither was Kidd, who downplayed it afterward.

“It’s just two good teams playing and you just hope you can find a way to win on the road,” Kidd said. “If this were June, it’s a different story. But it’s only February.”

The Celtics saw history repeat itself as the Mavericks did to them on the road what they were able to do down in the heart of Texas on Nov. 8 – stop the C’s from running their offense down the stretch and execute theirs. The Mavericks won that game, 89-87.

The Celtics were up 87-82 with 1:58 left before the Mavericks ended the game on a 7-0 run.

“We were in the same position at home,” said Kidd. “We were down and we found a way to get some stops and made some big shots at home and that’s what guys were talking about on the bench, that look, we’re in the same position we were at home against the Celtics and we found a way to make some big shots down the stretch.”

None bigger, of course, than Kidd’s dagger with 2.5 seconds remaining. And now, Kidd and the Mavericks could be in the midst of another run at an elusive title. Kidd was with New Jersey when they lost in the 2002 and 2003 NBA finals to the Lakers and Spurs, respectively. The Mavericks were done in by Miami in the 2006 NBA finals.

Another reason is Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 14 of his game-high 29 points in the third quarter. The Celtics had a 95-89 lead with just over three minutes left before Dallas ended the game by scoring the last 10 points and holding Boston scoreless on its home court for the final 2:43.

Tyson Chandler could very well be a missing link that 2006 team didn’t have. He was huge inside for the Mavs, who improved to 34-15 on the season. The big man finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds as the Mavericks swept the season series.

“You’ve got so many players that have been through it on this team, and been in that moment that any time any of those guys can step up,” Chandler said. “Jet [Jason Terry] has hit game-winners, Dirk has hit game- winners, Jason Kidd has hit game-winners. We’ve got options to go to down the stretch.”

The Celtics know all about options and could easily be seeing the Mavs again come June. Then, Kidd can talk even more about big games.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd
Game 49: Mavericks at Celtics 02.04.11 at 11:19 am ET
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The Dallas Mavericks have been doing this for a long time. They have been a playoff team every year for the last decade, the second-longest current streak after San Antonio. Their run coincided with the emerge of Dirk Nowitzki as a big-time player and over the years he has remained the one constant.

Steve Nash gave way to Jason Kidd. Michael Finley and Josh Howard were eventually replaced by Jason Terry and Shawn Marion. Through it all, Nowitzki has remained, and despite his MVP season, he remains one of the NBA’s underappreciated superstars.

Nowitzki is having another phenomenal season, perhaps his best since his MVP days. His impact can be seen through his +/- numbers where the Mavericks are more than 22 points better with him on the floor, the highest margin in the league, according to Basketball Value. His impact was even more obvious when he missed nine games and the Mavs went 2-7 during that stretch.

They have since won seven of their last eight and are re-establishing themselves as one of the Western Conference’s prime contenders along with the Spurs and Lakers.

“You can make a strong argument for him for MVP,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “Him and Derrick Rose and LeBron [James]. He’s having a heck of a year.”

As great as Nowitzki has been, the biggest change has come from the Mavs’ never-ending search for the right complimentary players to put around him. That would be Tyson Chandler.

“He’s the biggest change on their team,” Rivers said. “Chandler has made them a defensive team. They have an anchor now. Just think, they have [Brendan] Haywood coming off the bench. That’s a big, deep basketball team.”

Chandler gives them 10 points and nine rebounds per game, while shooting 66 percent from the floor on a limited arsenal of dunks and put-backs. But it’s his defensive presence that has been the biggest factor, especially in their zone defense.

The Mavs are ninth in defensive rating, up from 12th the season before and 17th the year before that. Additionally, they only give up 20 shots a game at the rim — the second lowest total in the league after Orlando where Dwight Howard patrols the paint.

This may be the same old Nowitzki, but it’s not the same old Mavs.

MAVERICKS (33-15, 7-3 last 10)

Offensive Rating: 108.1 (Points scored per 100 possessions, 11th)

Defensive Rating: 104.8 (Points allowed per 100 possessions, 9th)

Pace: 90.2 (Possessions per game, 23rd)

Likely Starters: Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Dirk Nowitzki, Brian Cardinal, Tyson Chandler

Injuries: Caron Butler (Knee, out), Roddy Beaubois (Foot, out), Peja Stojakovic (Knee, out)

CELTICS (37-11, 8-2 LAST 10)

Offensive Rating: 108.1 (12th)

Defensive Rating: 100.1 (2nd)

Pace: 90.8 (21st)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, TBD

Injuries: Shaquille O’Neal (Hip, Achilles, Questionable), Jermaine O’Neal (Knee, out), Delonte West (Wrist, out) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks, Preview
Fast Break: Nowitzki sinks Celtics 11.08.10 at 11:07 pm ET
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Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) pumps his fist after a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Dallas on Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.

Dirk Nowitzki buried a 17-foot jumper with 17 seconds remaining to defeat the Celtics. (AP)

Dirk Nowitzki hit a 17-foot jumper over Glen Davis with 17 seconds remaining, breaking an 87-87 tie and giving the Mavericks an 89-87 victory over the Celtics on Monday night.

Rajon Rondo missed a wide-open 3-pointer to win it, and Kevin Garnett missed a fadeaway jumper to tie it in the final seconds. Paul Pierce scored a team-high 24 points, Garnett added 18 points and 15 rebounds, and Rondo produced 11 points, 15 assists and six rebounds for the C’s, who fell to 6-2.

Nowitzki led the Mavericks (4-2) with 25 points, six rebounds and four assists.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG

1. First-half defense: You’re probably not going to beat anybody — let alone the Mavericks — when you allow an opponent to shoot 55 percent from the field for the first half. Dallas made 21-of-38 field goals in the opening 24 minutes, building a lead as large as 14, en route to a 10-point halftime lead.

Mavericks big men Tyson Chandler and Nowitzki were the biggest benefactors of the C’s porous defense. Chandler finished 5-for-5 in the first half, scoring all 10 of those points within two feet of the basket. Nowitzki scored nine first-half points on 4-of-7 shooting.

2. Shooting: It’s bad enough when you allow 55 percent shooting, but it hurts twice as much when your own field-goal percentage is hovering around 35 percent for much of the night. A second-half streak only raised the Celtics’ field goal percentage to 41 percent for the night.

Ray Allen (4-of-11), Jermaine O’Neal (1-of-6) and Rondo (5-of-15) all struggled from the field.

3. Losing the free-throw battle: Sure, the Celtics shot 100 percent from the free-throw line, but they only had seven attempts. The C’s got just one free-throw attempt combined from Glen Davis, Jermaine O’Neal, Garnett and Rondo.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks shot 20 free throws, making 17 (85 percent). Nowitzki alone matched the entire Celtics roster from the free-throw line, making all seven of his attempts. For the referees’ sake, it’s a good thing Tommy Heinsohn didn’t make the trip.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT

1. The halftime speech must’ve worked: The Celtics were badly outplayed in the first half and lucky to be trailing by just 10 at the break. The few signs of grit the C’s showed in the opening 24 minutes didn’t pay dividends, as their own shots just weren’t falling.

Well, something clicked, as the Celtics went on a 22-9 run to start the second half, taking a three-point lead on a trey from (who else but) Ray Allen just 8:14 into the third quarter.

2. Team rebounding: Jermaine O’Neal may have left the game at halftime because of his ailing left knee, but the Celtics didn’t miss him. Garnett grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds, while Pierce (7 boards), Rondo (6) and Allen (5) also chipped in on the glass.

In all, the Celtics out-rebounded the Mavericks, 41-38.

3. Semih Erden continues to contribute: In Jermaine O’Neal’s absence, Semih Erden played 11 minutes, scoring six points on 2-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-for-2 shooting from the free-throw line.

Erden has yet to miss a free throw this season, entering Monday night’s game a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. Perhaps that production can offset any struggles Shaquille O’Neal has at the line this season.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett
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