Friday, February 1, 2008
Celts beat Mavs without KG
Last night marked the first time that Boston faced one of the top teams in the West (Pheonix, San Antonio, Dallas) as the Mavericks came to the Garden for a TNT nationally-televised contest. Playing once again without Kevin Garnett, the Celts (36-8) got just enough from Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Co. to hold off the Mavs, 96-90 in a game that had the feel of a playoff game in May, especially in the second half.
The All Star reserves were named yesterday and while Pierce deservedly made it, Ray Allen did not (just like I said he shouldn't). Who knows if that was a big motivating factor but Allen came out on fire, scoring 15 in the first quarter and 22 in the first half, on the way to a team-high 26 points. Pierce also had 26 points and six rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki (game-high 31 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks) made the stacked West all star team but teammate Josh Howard (19 points, 6 rebounds) failed to do so. Dallas (31-14) was starting a tough three game stretch in the East against Boston, Detroit and Orlando, without point guard Devin Harris, who is out for the next few weeks with an ankle injury. The always overrated Jason Terry (13 points, 6 assists) didn't impress.
Boston was up 27-20 after the first quarter but Dallas won the second quarter, 24-17 to send it to halftime tied at 44.
Rajon Rondo (14 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists) had a great all-around game, showing off his crazy athletic ability. James Posey (13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals) and Leon Powe (10 points, 4 rebounds) were big sparks off the bench.
The Celts were up one going into the fourth and it stayed tight the rest of the way. The outcome came down to a couple huge plays by some unlikely Boston heroes. First, when it was tied at 90, Rondo ripped away a offensive rebound under the basket from the 7-foot Dirk and put it off the glass for two. Then Posey had steals on back-to-back Mavericks possessions and hit all four of his free throws to ice it.
The Mavs were terrible from 3 (4 of 22) while the Celts were 5 of 11. Both teams were automatic from the line, Boston was 25 of 29, Dallas was 24 of 28. Dallas had more assists (20-13) but they also had more turnovers (13-8). It was a very well-played game between two solid NBA teams.
It was easily one of the best wins of the season for the C's as they proved that they can beat an elite team without KG. It's something that they surely don't want to make a habit of but at least they know they're pretty good by themselves. They have the next few days off and don't play again until Tuesday night in Cleveland against LeBron and the Cavs.