Every now and then a team has to find a way to win a game on true grit.
Monday was one of those nights for the Dallas Mavericks.
With their offense and rebounding struggling, the Mavs managed to beat the Boston Celtics 94-89 before a sellout crowd of 20,132 at American Airlines Center.
It was the fifth win in the past six games for the Mavs as they got their franchise-record eight-game homestand off to a winning start.
“We didn’t shoot it great, but overall we did enough to win,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We won three of the four quarters.
“We had a dry third quarter, but they didn’t score all that well themselves that quarter, either. It was a pretty typical back-to-back — both teams playing back-to-back- type games.”
The Mavs (41-27) were coming off Sunday’s 109-86 win at Oklahoma City, while the Celtics dropped a heartbreaking 121-120 overtime game in New Orleans.
That set the stage for a sluggish performance by both teams. The game that wasn’t decided until the waning seconds.
Dallas was clinging to a 92-89 lead when Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless drove the lane and missed a runner with 8.7 seconds left. Bayless grabbed the rebound, and his second attempt — this time from 4 feet — was blocked by Vince Carter.
Shawn Marion scooped up the rebound for the Mavs, was fouled and made two free throws with 5 seconds left to account for the game’s final two points.
There was nothing fancy about the way the Mavs dispatched the Celtics (22-46), who have lost six straight games.
“It’s a good win,” Carlisle said. “The biggest problem we were having out there was the rebounding.
“They had 21 offensive rebounds, which is an astronomical number, and that’s too many, obviously. But they charge after it pretty aggressively, and we didn’t do a good job there, but we survived it.”
After building a 15-point lead in the third quarter (64-49), the Mavs were caught napping too many times and suddenly found themselves involved in a catfight with a team headed to the NBA Draft Lottery.
Avery Bradley stripped the ball at midcourt from Monta Ellis and drove in for a breakaway dunk to get the Celtics within 90-89 with 21.6 seconds left. Following an intentional foul, Ellis made a couple of free throws to pad the Mavs’ lead back up to three with 19.8 seconds left.
Then came the block from Carter, who had nine points off the bench to go with that game-changing block.
“Our bench was big for us,” Carlisle said. “We had a lot of guys chip in and help, which was good. The big play at the end [by Carter] was big, because they’re right there. It’s a one-possession game.”
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 19 points, Ellis scored 17, Devin Harris had 12, Brandan Wright had 10 and Marion finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
Meanwhile, as they did in Sunday’s win over the Thunder, Harris and Wright executed three alley-oop dunks that laid the groundwork for the victory over the Celtics.
“The beautiful thing about our team is that we’re always spacing the floor with shooters, so the defense has to make a decision,” Harris said. “Most teams would rather give up a two than a 3, so those dunks are going to be there.
“And if they’re not, then I’ve got Vince and Dirk behind him ready to shoot. So teams really have to pick their poison on that.”
Dallas led 26-22 after the first period and 50-43 at the half, but managed just 14 points in a sloppily-played third quarter.
“They always play the whole 48 minutes, so we knew they were going to come back and make a run,” Ellis said. “But we took their punch and made plays down the stretch and came out with the win.”