Dirk's 31 Leads Mavs Past Celtics 118-113 In OT
Nobody puts Dirk in an overly-defined corner because he is a 7-footer in constant need of a haircut who wears No. 41 ... which mark the only real similiarities between him and Boston's Kelly Olynyk.
After a brutal road trip that saw that Mavs play four games in six nights against some of the best teams the NBA has to offer, the Mavs finally returned home to face the Boston Celtics from the comfort of the home crowd at the American Airlines Center. Three losses in four games put the Mavs in a veritable must-win situation against a Boston team that had won three straight coming in.
They "must'' win. So Dirk won it.
“I mean, I didn’t have it,'' said Dirk, who got off to a sluggish start before totaling 11 rebounds and matching his season-high scoring production with 31, including 21 in the final two periods. "I was tired, and I had to dig deep. think in the fourth quarter there I had a pull-up that finally went in, and I think that’s what I needed. I needed a shot to go in. I needed a shot to go through the net, and I was better after that.”
"Better'' than most anyone who has ever played this game, including young Olynyk, who through know fault of his own found his name foolishly lumped in with The Uberman by Celtics voice Tommy Heinsohn, who compared the two players. ... a common exercise, a common mistake.
Though early in the game, Dirk certainly wasn't himself.
With 50 Cent in attendance at the AAC, the Mavs got off to a great start, finishing the first quarter with a 29-16 lead. In the quarter the Mavs hit five-of-eight from three, including three of three from Wes Matthews, who finished the first quarter with 11 points. Marcus Smart would equalize Matthews’ 11 on his end, ending the quarter with a buzzer-beating three to pull the Celts back within 13.
A big part of the Mavs' success in the first half was the defensive game plan against Isaiah Thomas, who they held to just 2 points on one of six shooting. As the spark of the Celtics offense, Thomas was averaging 21.8 points per contest, including 29.6 over the last five coming into Monday night’s game. In the second half however, Thomas would come to life, ending the game with 20 points and seven assists.
The Celtics would make a push in the third quarter, outscoring the Mavs 33-18 and evaporating the Mavs once 17-point behind the Isaiah Thomas run. To make things worse, Wes Matthews would leave the game in the third quarter, but returned to action to begin the fourth.
As a team, Boston shot 42.6 percent from the field, while Smart would finish tied with Thomas as the Celtics leading scorer with 20 points and eight rebounds. Dallas on the other hand, shot 43 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three.
After just six points in the first half, Dirk would put the Mavs on his back, saving the day despite finishing eight-of-21 shooting. With the game in the balance, Dirk did the heavy-lifting, giving his team a five-point lead with about a minute and half to go in the game.
Like we said, "incomparable.''
The Mavs had Boston (22-20) on the brink, but failed to close things out in regulation after old friend Jae Crowder was fouled by Raymond Felton on a three, with Crowder hitting all three from the line and sending the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, Dallas would eventually take control, thanks 10 points from Deron Williams, and a big time three from the Big German with 35 seconds to go. Dirk (the top candidate, we suppose, for your vote for "The Dirkie'' here) would go on to ice things from the line, hitting four free throws down the stretch and giving the Mavs a 118-113 victory.
The Mavs have been sensational in the clutch all season long, and Monday night was just another example of that.
"It’s a great win for us,'' coach Rick Carlisle said of the 24-19 Mavs. "It salvages our week to some degree, because it’s such a hard week schedule-wise. And we’ve got a couple of more important home games coming up.”
A "great win''? In the grand scheme of things, this win is probably just another notch in the Mavs belt. But having dropped three of their last four coming in, Dallas desperately needed one to go its way. Now, with Minnesota coming to town on Wednesday night, The Mavs have a chance to get back on track in their playoff pursuit.
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The Final Word
“It was a gutsy win. We were on a back-to-back against a hard-nosed, tough-playing team that kept making runs at us, and that was definitely a good win.'' - Dirk.