BOSTON – Despite winning in just about every statistical category, the Boston Celtics had to feel a little uneasy going into the fourth quarter.
The Dallas Mavericks were starving for a victory and had done what you’re supposed to do on the road – keep it close going into the fourth quarter.
Making matters worse for the Celtics, leading scorer Isaiah Thomas had been a non-factor for the first three quarters.
And then came the fourth and one shot fell … then another … and another.
CELTICS 90, MAVERICKS 83:
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- WATCH: Isaiah Thomas between-the-legs pass to Avery Bradley for the slam
Before long, Thomas was having one of those nights that the Celtics have seen him deliver since coming to Boston.
And it could not have come at a better time as the Celtics held on for a 90-83 win over the Mavericks.
Thomas led the way with a game-high 30 points, 22 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter.
“He’s done it so many times,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Certainly Isaiah’s fourth quarter was tremendous.”
And as Stevens pointed out, it wasn’t as if this was something out of the ordinary for Thomas.
According to NBA.com/stats, Thomas is the NBA’s second-leading scorer in the fourth quarter (9.7 points), with Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (10.2 points) just ahead of him.
“I guess I just like that quarter,” Thomas said. “Sometimes guys get a little tighter and the pressure gets a little tougher for them, and I guess I like pressure.”
Wednesday’s performance only adds to what has been an even more impressive season for Thomas than last year when he was named to his first All-star team.
He is averaging a career-high 27.2 points per game which ranks eighth in the NBA.
While his big-time scoring numbers certainly reflect positively on him, Thomas is quick to credit those around him for allowing him to be one of the game’s premier scorers.
“I really just try to make plays and my teammates put me in a position to get myself going because the first three quarters I wasn’t really playing too well. For whatever reason I wasn’t myself so I saw the ball go in with a few free throws in the fourth quarter and then I felt better about myself. My teammates set screens, my coach put me in position, and I just took advantage of it.”
Especially in the fourth quarter.
“You know, he’s got a knack for it,” Stevens said. “I guess I’m so used to being around him and so used to watching him operate that nothing surprises me, is the way I’d say it. I think that he would be the first to tell you that he had opportunities earlier in the game that he usually takes advantage of, but for whatever reason was coming up short. But he got his legs into a couple of those shots late; you could see the lift and the rhythm that he had into a couple of them looked a little bit different and he was unbelievable.”