DALLAS — Thirty-seven-year-old Dirk Nowitzki said he was tired late in the Dallas Mavericks‘ 118-113 overtime win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night after the pesky, young Celtics turned a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit into a six-point lead.
"I just dug deep," said Nowitzki, who tied a season high with 31 points and had 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. "That was a gutsy win."
Nowitzki scored 14 in the fourth quarter, including a late four-point play, and was part of Dallas’ barrage of 3-pointers at the start of overtime. Deron Williams added two 3-pointers early in overtime and had 10 of his 20 points in the extra period while the Mavericks bounced back from their worst loss of the season, 112-83 at San Antonio on Sunday night.
"He has been fantastic for us down the stretch," Nowitzki said of Williams. "He was extremely great tonight."
"Boston's a team that just doesn't go away," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart led Boston with 20 points each and Avery Bradley added 19.
Jae Crowder, traded from Dallas to Boston last season, sent the game to overtime by hitting three free throws with 6.7 seconds left after being fouled by Raymond Felton.
"We were playing uphill but had our chances anyways, but weren't able to take advantage of it," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
The Mavericks have beaten the Celtics seven straight times, 11 of 12 and six straight at American Airlines Center.
The Celtics had a three-game winning streak snapped.
The Mavericks led 17-2 after 8 minutes, during which time the Celtics hit only 1 of 15 shots. Boston then sank 12 of 15 field goal attempts to pull within 40-31 with 7:16 to play in the half. The Mavericks' 8-0 run put them ahead 52-39 at halftime.
"We were just flat," said Crowder, who was 0 for 7 with one rebound during the first half. "They got into us early and dictated the game."
The Mavericks led by 16 early in the third quarter only to have the Celtics outshoot them 55 per cent to 29 per cent during the period and take a 72-70 lead going into the final quarter.
Boston led 86-80 with 5:48 remaining before Dallas went on a 10-1 run to move ahead 90-87 with 2:47 left.
A RECIPROCAL VICTORY
The Mavericks were forced to rally after owning a 17-point lead in the first quarter. When the teams met in Boston in mid-November, they came back from an 18-point deficit in the first quarter to win 106-102. That is Dallas' largest comeback win this season.
TOUTED FOR TORONTO
Thomas' 20 points gives him an average of 28 over his last six games. Stevens stumped for the 5-foot-9 point guard to be selected to the All-Star Game.
"He's not only a dynamic scorer, but the way he's able to run offence, the way he's been able to defend for us, his all-around game," Stevens said. "Obviously, he's elevated our team."
Crowder was asked about defending Nowitzki, his former teammate, and cautioned that he can't be played too tightly.
"You can't get too physical with him," Crowder said. "He flops, knows how to get the calls."
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he won't argue with recent comments made by Tommy Heinsohn, Celtics icon and TV colour analyst, who recently said Boston's Kelly Olynyk could potentially be better than Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, the No. 6 scorer in league history.
"I never question Tommy," Cuban said. "I'm one of his biggest fans. ... He's talking hairstyles, right?"
Celtics: They recalled forward Jordan Mickey from Maine of the Development League. Mickey will join the team for a home game Friday night against Chicago. ... Smart grew up in the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound, and Bradley is a native of Arlington and played one season for the University of Texas.
Mavericks: This was Dallas' third straight home game to go into overtime, a franchise first. ... Nowitzki has averaged 26 points in 33 career games against Boston, his highest average against any NBA opponent.
Celtics: At Toronto on Wednesday night.
Mavericks: Home against Minnesota on Wednesday night.