Rajon Rondo was one rebound short of a triple-double and the Boston Celtics (12-9) inched past the Dallas Mavericks (11-11) in double overtime, 117-115, on Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA.
After an extended layoff, the Celtics got back to basketball with a nationally broadcast game against Jason Terry's old team, the Mavericks.
Boston used six turnovers for eight Celtics' points in the first quarter as they jumped out to a 27-25 lead. Boston was aggressive from the start, letting the veterans, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, do most of the dirty work. The duo scored 11 of Boston's first 15 points.
The Celtics opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 10. Garnett was vital to the team's offense and defense. Despite Chris Wilcox's uplifting play off the bench, Garnett is still the driving force and vocal leader on both ends of the court. His persistence allowed the Celtics to force five turnovers in the quarter and take a 48-43 lead into the half.
At the half, O.J. Mayo, who is averaging 20 points per game, had only six, while Chris Kaman had 10 to lead the Mavericks. Pierce had 16 on 6-of-9 shooting, while Rajon Rondo dished out seven assists, scored four points and had three rebounds.
Boston used a 13-4 run to open the third quarter, without turning the ball over once, to extend their lead. Dallas wouldn't go away though, as the Celtics became complacent with the game, throwing lazy passes and breaking down on defensive rotations. The Mavericks switched to a zone on defense and would use a 9-2 run to cut a 14-point lead to four.
With the Mavericks' confidence at an all-game high, Dallas and the Celtics traded buckets entering the fourth, leading to a one-point game with just over six minutes to go. Boston would change their defensive scheme, preferring to trap Mayo every time he touched the ball, instead forcing his Maverick teammates to beat the Celtics. After leading the entire contest, Boston would find itself tied with Dallas at 90 following a Mayo layup, then a coast-to-coast take from Darren Collison with 2:19 left in the game.
Boston and Dallas would trade leads through the final minutes, with Mayo missing a free throw with 52 seconds remaining to tie the game again at 96. Thanks to a missed step-back jumper from Pierce, the Mavs had the ball with 24 seconds left in the game and 18 seconds on the shot clock. Off the inbounds, Derek Fisher had a wide open lane to the basket, but chose instead to run clock. That resulted in a Mayo turnover when Rondo poked the ball out from behind.
The Celtics maintained possession with 6.9 seconds left in the game, but Rondo's failed execution on the buzzer-beating shot for the second time in a week sent the game into overtime.
With the game knotted at 101, a Terry steal led to a huge elbow jumper to give Boston a brief lead. After the Mavericks answered at the other end, Rondo found Garnett in rhythm to give the two-point lead right back to the Celtics with 26.9 seconds remaining in the game. Mayo found the rim yet again, tying the ballgame at 103-103 with 11 seconds, which eventually sent the game into a second overtime.
Boston would take a three-point lead on a Pierce three on the first position of the second overtime. Mayo would answer with a layup on the next possession, but with both teams utterly exhausted, they settled for long jumpers instead of running set pieces. With neither team scoring over the next three minutes, Dallas would call a timeout, leading to Rondo's third steal in a clutch situation against Mayo.
After a Rondo layup and Pierce free throw, Carter hit a huge trey to cut Boston's lead to one. Pierce would hit all of his free throws down the stretch, though, and the Celtics sealed a sloppy double overtime victory.
On the night, Boston shot 43 percent from the field, while the Mavericks hit 51 percent of their shots. Pierce led the onslaught, scoring 34 points for the Celtics in the win. Mayo had a team-high 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting, while Collison scored 20 points off the bench.
Terry didn't make a shot in the entire first half, missing all four attempts and getting his only points on two free throws. He would open the third quarter with a big trey and finished the night with 10 points and three assists.
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