Strong fourth quarter propels Celtics to 97-90 win over Mavericks

Strong fourth quarter propels Celtics to 97-90 win over Mavericks

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics once again saved their best for last, putting together a strong fourth quarter which once again proved to be just enough to propel them to a 97-90 victory over Dallas that was yet another reminder of just how clutch this team can be when challenged. 

Kyrie Irving had a game-high 23 points on 10-for-18 shooting. Al Horford continued his nightly flirtation with a triple-double, tallying 17 points along with eight rebounds and eight assists. Jayson Tatum (17 points) along with Terry Rozier (12 points) and Shane Larkin (11 points) off the bench also finished in double figures for the Celtics.

The Mavericks (7-18) were led by Harrison Barnes’ 19 points with Dirk Nowitzki chipping in with 16 points and six rebounds.

Dallas came in having won four of its last six games, so the Mavericks’ confidence was high. Making the game even more difficult for the Celtics was that they were playing without Jaylen Brown (eye) and Marcus Morris (left knee rehabilitation).

Despite being without a starter (Brown) and a key rotation player (Morris), Boston still managed to get a tough, hard-earned victory prior to hitting the road for a three-game road trip that begins on Friday against San Antonio.

After lackluster starts to the first three quarters, Boston opened the fourth quarter with a 10-0 blitz to take an 80-73 lead before a Dallas time-out was called.

The Mavericks came out of the time-out with a focus on getting the ball to Nowitzki as often as possible.

It was a good strategy for the Mavericks who scored eight of the next nine points of the game to tie the score at 81 which is when Boston called a time-out with 7:23 to play.

Boston would regain the lead, but they just couldn’t shake this Mavericks team that once again, was giving them all they could handle.

When the two met earlier this season, the Mavericks had the Celtics on the brink of defeat only for Boston to rally in the fourth, force overtime and eventually prevail 110-102.

Boston didn’t dig itself as deep a hole in the fourth on Wednesday as they did when the two met last month, which made pulling away in the final minutes of play a smoother path towards victory.

Getting it done in the closing moments once again was Kyrie Irving, whose 3-point play that made it an 92-85 game brought about the all-too-familiar “M-V-P” chants from the Celtics faithful in attendance.

He wasn’t done.

After being nearly stripped in the paint, he tossed up a bank shot off the glass to make it a 95-87 game.

Moments later, he came up with a steal and got the outlet pass up court to Terry Rozier whose dunk put the Celtics ahead 97-87, their first double-digit lead of the night.

And from there, the Celtics (22-4) were able to manage the game clock and come away with their fourth straight win and sixth in the last seven games.

It also improved Boston’s record against Western Conference teams to a perfect 8-0 on the season.


Celtics should get word Friday on Irving's status

Celtics should get word Friday on Irving's status

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving has had a second opinion on his sore left knee, and a decision on what the next step will be is expected to be made within the next day or two, according to a league source.

 The medical officials involved in the initial evaluation will meet with those who examined him today, to compare notes and determine what’s in the best interest of Irving going forward.

 While surgery is a possibility, the source indicated that the current course of treatment, which consists primarily of rest, remains a consideration. 
The concerns regarding Irving’s knee are to be of the short-term variety, with the source indicating reports that there are long-term concerns with the knee are “just wrong.” 

 In his first season with the Celtics, Irving has appeared in 60 games in what has been one of his most efficient seasons as a scorer. 
He’s averaging 24.4 points per game while shooting a career-high 49.1 percent from the field. The five-time all-star is shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range this season in addition to dishing out 5.1 assists along with grabbing a career-high 3.8 rebounds.


Celtics assistant McCarty to become coach at Evansville

AP Photo

Celtics assistant McCarty to become coach at Evansville

BOSTON – The first member of the Brad Stevens’ coaching tree is about to take off. Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty is expected to be named head coach at Evansville University.

McCarty, an Evansville, Ind. native, was selected over a field of candidates that included former Indiana University standout Calbert Cheaney and David Ragland who, like McCarty, is an Evansville native.

The 6-foot-10 McCarty, a 10-year NBA veteran with seven-plus spent with the Celtics, has been part of Stevens’ coaching staff since 2013. The former Celtic has been a college assistant coach at Louisville (2007-2010) in addition to the NBA’s Indiana Pacers (2010-2011).