DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, Shawn Marion had a double-double in his return from a calf injury and the Mavericks spoiled Jason Terry’s return to Dallas with a 104-94 victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
Terry scored eight in his first game in Dallas since leaving for Boston in free agency. He was the latest key piece the Mavericks decided not to keep since beating Miami in the 2011 NBA finals.
Terry was known for 3-point shooting and clutch fourth quarters with the Mavericks, but he missed both 3-pointers for the game and was just 1 of 3 shooting without a try from long range in the final quarter.
Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass led Boston with 16 points apiece, and Bass added 11 rebounds.
The Mavericks kept their lead near the halftime margin of 11 until early in the fourth quarter, when Jordan Crawford hit a tough 3-pointer from the corner, then picked up a steal from Mike James near midcourt and made a reverse layup with Nowitzki in pursuit to pull Boston within six.
Brandan Wright led Dallas with a season-high 23 points and had a key strip on a drive by Jeff Green that led to a short jumper from Darren Collison for an 88-78 lead with 7:44 remaining.
The Celtics were within five in the final 2 minutes when Wright rebounded a miss from Vince Carter, and O.J. Mayo had all the time he needed to measure up a 3-pointer for a 100-92 lead while an injured Courtney Lee sat near him holding his left leg.
The Celtics were within six earlier in the fourth when Mayo hit a tough jumper with the shot clock expiring and Wright followed a miss with a dunk to push the lead to 10 again.
Marion, back after missing eight games with a left calf strain, had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Dallas went 5-3 without him but missed his defence, particularly in giving up 113 points in each of the last two games he was out. The Mavericks held the Celtics to 42 per cent shooting and limited Pierce and Kevin Garnett to just 19 shots combined.
Marion had a rough start — his first shot was an airball on a wide-open 3-pointer — but he had seven rebounds in the first quarter and 10 before halftime.
The Celtics lost for the fifth time in seven games and slid closer to the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, which would mean a likely first-round pairing with Miami. The Celtics have lost three straight, a skid that started with a loss to Miami when Boston let a 17-point lead slip away with a chance to end the Heat’s winning streak at 22.
Carter closed the first half on a three-point play less than a second left, flipping the ball in off the backboard while being pulled down by Pierce after Nowitzki barely grazed the backboard on a fadeway shot. The play put Dallas up 55-44, and Carter joined Wright with 12 points apiece before halftime.
Nowitzki led Dallas with 14 in the first half, including a 3-pointer from a couple of feet behind the line late in the second quarter.
Terry struggled to get involved offensively in the first half, taking just two shots and finishing with four points. The Celtics shot just 37 per cent in the first half but stayed close by making all 17 free throws. Brandon Bass, who led Boston with 10 first-half points, and Garnett were each 6 of 6 from the line. Garnett had eight first-half rebounds.
NOTES: Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said G Rodrigue Beaubois was "probably" out for the season after surgery on a broken left hand, but wouldn’t rule him out entirely. Beaubois was injured in Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma City. … Mayo is still Dallas’ leading scorer, but he’s been the top point man just twice in the past 20 games. He’s been held to single digits three times this month. … Green has 23 points combined in the two games since he scored a career-high 43 in Boston’s loss to Miami. … The Mavericks didn’t trail in a game for the second time this season. The previous game was Jan. 14, a 113-98 win over Minnesota.