THE GAME-WINNER – IN PICTURES!: It helped that Kevin Garnett was drawn on the pick-and-roll to come out on Jason Terry – though had he not done so, Terry swore, "I knew I'd have knocked that thing down'' -- and that original Jet defender Rajon Rondo slipped on the play as he was retreating to stick with Dirk Nowitzki …
… Who rolled toward the paint as the clock ticked down inside of nine seconds. Terry got the ball to Dirk, who was met inside by Kendrick Perkins and the options were unfolding perfectly. Options? Probably Nowitzki would take the ball up into Perkins and draw a shooting foul, or maybe even get the And-1. Or Perkins' man, left-open-by-the-help Tyson Chandler, would be found by Dirk for a dump-off pass and a dunk. All the UberMan really had to do is catch Jet's pass cleanly and …
The pass was delivered low and bounced off Dirk's right knee. (Happily the only problem Dirk's right knee would give him all night.) All that work, a triple-screen spread across the width of the floor to set up the pick-and-roll, Jet's and his mates' fine execution of it, and heck, don't forget the 47 minutes and 51 seconds of effort to get to that point against a best-in-the-East Celtics team that's lost three at home all season long … there is was being bobbled away in traffic …
"I was open,'' Dirk said. "The pass was fumbled.''
Nowitzki put it on the floor, trying to gather himself, but now Perkins was bodying up on him. … and Paul Pierce had dropped to cut off the idea of an easy shuffle pass to Chandler.
The first option was dead.
Nowitzki pushed the ball outside to Jason Kidd, who was waiting at the top of the arc. He was open but only briefly, as his first attempt to pull a trigger was challenged by a recovering Ray Allen …
But his second attempt to pull a trigger, after first letting Allen soar by him and then pulling his right foot back behind the line? Good!
Said Kidd: "You're not a shooter, so they're going to give you the shot.''
"It was kind of lucky,'' Dirk said, speaking mostly about his ability to overcome his fumble. "J-Kidd made the play. He's a warrior in this league.''
Now let's put it all together.
And the Mavs are warriors on the road. Again.
THAT ROAD SUCCESS: We know you suffer from MavVirus. It makes it difficult to believe what you are seeing. But what you seeing (we think) is …
*A Dallas Mavericks team that is in second place in the West at 34-15.
*A team that has won seven straight games.
*A team that now has a 15-8 road record, a mark only the Spurs can claim to match.
Does this win prove anything? Hey, they were second when Dirk got hurt, slipped to fifth, now Dirk's healthy again and they're in second again? Isn't that elite?
"No question,'' says JJB. "Anytime you beat Boston, especially here at their home ... We've got the talent to do it."
THE CLOSERS: "We had about three or four airballs at the end!'' said Jason Terry, exaggerating Dallas' coupla final-two-minute problems only slightly.
Actually, it was two. Jet tossed up an errant 3 and then DeShawn Stevenson did the same, on consecutive possessions.
But they also tossed a shutout of almost three minutes at Boston to close the game while outscoring the home team 10-0 to the game's end.
With 2:43 left in the game, Kendrick Perkins would get a layup to put the Celtics up 97-to-91.
The Celtics would not score again.
Meanwhile, Dallas would add those 10 points to their total as the crutch of their defense supported their hopes and served up the circumstances that allowed their offense to put the game away, despite those back-to-back airballs from Terry and Stevenson at one point in those final minutes.
In the fourth quarter, a team that had been shooting in the area of 60 percent for most of the night, Boston, would hit only 8-of-22 shots (36.4 percent).
The last time these teams played, Dallas won by closing with a 7-0 run. This time it's a 10-0 run.
Isn't that just as impressive as whatever the hell their point differential is?
DIRK VS. KG: Coming into the game, the big number: In 11 career games in Boston, Dirk was averaging 27.7 points … and that was the fourth-highest all-time in NBA history. The cats ahead of him? Jordan (32 points per game), Kareem (30.7) and Chamberlain (29.7).
And Nowitzki's number just jumped up a little bit more, with a game-high 29 points.
Last year Dirk scored 37 in a win at Boston. Six times he's finished with 30 or more. His lowest output was 18.
Here, he scored eight in the first half and 21 in the second half all the while being guarded by Kevin Garnett as if KG was Big Ben and the Boston gym was a ladies restroom. This was a mugging, from start to finish, but as we've said often: The way to respond isn't to slap a face, it's to score in his face.
The other mentality? Well, in fairness, it serves KG well. He is an infamously dirty player, but he does so in unison with a strong work ethic, so not many opposing coaches call him out on it.
Hey, at least KG didn't undercut or bag-tag Dirk like he recently did to Phoenix' Channing, eh?
Dirk's response to KG's wrestling, his off-arm "pass interference,'' his attempts at bullying?
Score. Defend. Win. Get on the bus.
That's not to say the Mavs didn't exhibit toughness.
Should you find yourself in an argument with anyone still grasping that tired label of "soft" in reference to the Mavs, you need do no more than show them the two games against Boston this season, both Dallas wins.
The Mavericks were thrust into the fire against the best the East has to offer. With the best record outside of San Antonio, the Celtics sought to lean on their league-leading defense (by points allowed) to sever the six-game winning streak Dallas brought to the court. They would be unable to do so, as the Mavs matched them in some areas… but more, beat them in shot-making and brainwork.
In some ways, this was precisely the brand of game most expected. The refs pocketed their whistles and let the game unfold on its own accord. There were moments of frustration for calls that were not made (for both sides), forcing the need of adaptation if there was to be anything more attained than survival.
In the Darwinian world of the NBA, the Mavs threw up a handful of poor shots in the paint in the hopes of getting to the line. But, when they didn't, they didn't sink into a haze of frustration. Instead, they flexed their muscles (both physical and mental) and matched the Celtics shove for shove, toughness with toughness, and put the game away in the final moments.
Score. Defend. Win. Get on the bus.
Nowitzki needn't lower himself to that level of an inferior player. He came in averaging 23.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The Mavericks are now 32-8 when he plays.
"You can make a strong argument for him as MVP,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Him and Derrick Rose are probably the two frontrunners. (Dirk) is having a heck of a year."
Dirk ROSE ABOVE the level of KG's infamously dirty defensive play, fought through the clutching and grabbing, and turned Garnett into a turnstile.
Score. Defend. Win. Get on the bus.
JJB FOR THE START: J.J. Barea made his first start of the season in his old stomping grounds (he attended collece at nearby Northeastern) and responded early with nine first-quarter points in the first quarter.
Most interest moment for JJB? A run-in with Kevin Garnett, who once again displayed his amazing "competitiveness" by finding the smallest player on the court and picking a "fight."
The overall impact: It moved DeShawn Stevenson to small forward, moved Brian Cardinal almost out of the rotation for a night, and helped Dallas off to a nice start, as JJB made 2-of-2 from behind the arc in the first quarter. However, from that point on the going would not be nearly as smooth, leaving Barea's final stats at 11 points to go with three assists and three turnovers. The Mavs finished the game with Stevenson on the floor for a few minutes (with Dirk, TY, Kidd and Jet) and then Marion in DeShawn's spot to close.
QUOTEBOARD: "We got a secret weapon in the tank,'' said Jason Terry, hinting that the Mavs will be even more fortified in the coming days.
Secret? Who's the secret?
"He's a Euro,'' Jet responded with the wink.
We'll assume that to be Peja, possibly ready to play in Monday's return home against the Cavs. We'll assume it's not Roddy B, who is also European. Or maybe we should just assume that Jet is being hyperbolic and doesn't actually know what he's talking about.
For more quotes, check out the McKinneyDentist.com Quoteboard after every game!
KEY STAT: Dallas is now 24-1 when scoring at least 100 points. Rick Carlisle may have called averaging 100 points "vanity" or "bullshit" earlier in the season, but there's something to be said for that record.
MAVSELLANEOUS: In some ways, this was a high scoring game dominated by efficient offense. At halftime, both teams were shooting at least 56 percent from the field and were on pace to score over 100 points. Probably not what you had in mind when thinking of a Mavs-Celtics matchup. … Dirk would get his 29 points while continuing his return to remarkable efficiency by shooting 9-of-14, including 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. … The game totals may say the defense wasn't performing at its peak level, note the Celtics did finish the game hitting just over 50 percent of their field goals. But, when the final period arrived and both defenses constricted and turned this away from on offense-heavy contest, it was Dallas's that prevailed. Considering the foe, this is worth noting -- and praising. … Kidd scored 10 points and dished out nine assists. …
WHO DESERVES THE DIRKIE?: You vote here! Lots of fine candidate for gold, right?
TY'S RESPONSE: Including the Boston contest, Tyson Chandler has put up the following averages over the past seven games: 17.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.4 offensive rebounds, seven free-throw attempts, all while shooting 64.5 percent.
His totals against Boston were very similar to those in the teams' previous meeting this season, where he had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Friday night, he would score 14 while grabbing 15 boards.
Early in the game, it appeared Garnett might have a nice plan of attack for Tyson, as he started by hitting his first six shot attempts for 12 points in the first quarter. Much as it was with Amar'e on Wednesday in New York (when the Knicks star disappeared in the second half) the rest of the game wouldn't prove to be quite as fruitful, primarily due to the play of Chandler.
For the final three quarters, Garnett would go 1-of-10 for four points.
The impact of Chandler remains a tangible quality to the eyes of those watching. The game is simply different when he is on the court.
He intends, by the way, to make it even more different now that he's been All-Star-snubbed.
TY didn't get voted in as a sub and even with the Yao Ming opening, he still isn't in as the NBA has named Kevin Love to the game.
"He's our MVP so far, so I'm really disappointed for him,'' Dirk said of Chandler, who claims now he has a "list'' of teams he will seek vengeance against. Western Conference coaches, presumably.
Fine. But a 14/15 against this Eastern Conference coach was nice, too.
Oh, and more TY dunks, please, so this highlight reel can be updated. Thank you.
WOOD TO THE IANIMAL: Once again, it was Brendan Haywood getting the first chance at the backup center minutes, and Ian Mahinmi finishing in that role after poor play from Haywood.
This was particularly disappointing on this night, as the game seemed to be perfectly suited towards Big Wood's physical style of play. Big Wood vs. the returning Kendrick Perkins? Seems like a good wrasslin' match.
Yet, in just under six minutes of ineffective play, Brendan would gather nothing more than one block on the stat sheet. This wouldn't be a problem, but he failed to make an impact in other ways as well.
In close proximity, he allowed Marquis Daniels and Von Wafer, both much small players (and both former Mavs!) to outwork him for offensive rebounds that quickly resulted in easy second-chance points for the Celtics. These moments seemed to typify his six minutes.
In direct contrast, Ian Mahinmi brought unbridled energy and enthusiasm during his brief stint of four minutes, getting two rebounds and a steal.
Look, neither of these guys made a huge impact on this night. But, what little impact there was from Mahinmi was positive, while what came from Haywood was not.
COINCIDENCE? A matter of coincidence, or the signs of a perfectly executed gameplan?
Over the course of the November matchup between these teams, Barea would score 11. Jason Terry would score 17. Dirk would put up 25.
Friday night: Barea would score 11. Terry would score 17. Dirk would score 29.
Ok, this may be as much coincidence as anything, but still eerily close.
JET TO 15,000: Jason Terry surpassed the 15,000-career-points mark in the third quarter, becoming player No. 116 to do so in NBA history. In comparison with some of Dirk's achievements this may seem small, but that would provide a disservice to just what Terry has accomplished. Being in the top 116 remains no small feat.
For the night, Terry would hit a few huge shots for the Mavs down the stretch, and many won't forget the poor judgment that led to a contested corner-3 in the final minutes that drew nothing but air, but did play a significant role in Dallas pulling out the victory with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting and two steals.
Most amusing about it all: Jet swore to our man Mark Followill that he knew nothing about the 15,000 achievement.
We know Jet. You know Jet. That simply cannot be true.
‘TRIX OVERLOOKED?: In our praise of Chandler's defense, Shawn Marion often gets overlooked. Yet, he continues to be a key cog in the construct of the defense when it's working at optimum levels … and if his runners or baby-hooks are falling, generally good things come to the Mavs.
Marion would finish with 13 points on an efficient 6-of-11 to go with nine rebounds. … and we enjoyed watching him be a finisher when the Mavs needed a late stop.
We also enjoy this: "The other guys (besides Dirk) are what beat us tonight,'' said Doc Rivers.
THE FINAL WORD: From Ray Allen, reflecting on Kidd's game-winner: "I'll be in my bed thinking about how I never should've left Jason Kidd open.''