Mavericks 113, Celtics 94

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DALLAS (AP)—The Dallas Mavericks got serious about defending their home court.

Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 11 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season, and Michael Finley added 21 points as the Mavericks built a 28-point first-half lead and eased to a 113-94 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.

Erick Dampier matched his season-high with 16 points, all in the first half, and Jason Terry had a season-high 14 assists for Dallas.

The Mavericks, beginning a stretch of five straight home games, improved to 9-6 at home. Dallas, 36-5 at home last season, had lost three of its previous four home games and has been more successful on the road with a 10-4 record.

“It’s nice to win on the road, but we’ve been letting games slip away here,” Nowitzki said. “We have to find a way to get that right.”

Paul Pierce and Jiri Welsch had 17 points each, and Raef LaFrentz scored 16 points to pace the Celtics, who’ve lost eight of their last nine meetings with the Mavericks.

After trailing by 24 at halftime, Boston came out with more energy and started the third quarter with a 24-11 spurt to pull to 84-73. But Dallas recovered with a 7-0 run capped by Finley’s buzzer-beating jumper to take a 91-73 lead into the final quarter.

Dallas missed its first shot of the game, then converted its next nine in bolting to a 41-20 lead after one quarter. Dampier had 12 points and Nowitzki scored 11 in the opening quarter while the Mavericks shot 17-of-22. Dallas had nine layups and dunks in the first quarter, five dunks from Dampier, to post its highest-scoring quarter of the season.

“We came out and set the tempo at both ends,” Terry said. “We were able to get in the lane and guys got in their spots. It all worked out.”

The Mavericks went on to a 73-49 halftime advantage helped by a 16-0 late second-quarter run. Dallas was led by Nowitzki’s 20 first-half points.

Shooting 28-for-43 from the floor in the first half (65 percent), Dallas rolled to its biggest lead (68-40) with 1:57 left until halftime.

“They exploited our defense,” LaFrentz said. “It took them two possessions to figure out what we were doing and then they went to work.”

Boston turned up its defensive intensity in the third quarter, doing a better job defending Nowitzki on the pick-and-roll. Dallas scored only 18 points in the third quarter, four from Nowitzki.

“They were dancing behind the pick-and-rolls and picking us apart,” Welsch said. “We changed that and in the second half we were trapping the guy with the ball and it was much better.”

Notes

Mavericks G-F Jerry Stackhouse sang the National Anthem, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd and hugs from teammates. …Stackhouse had missed the previous four games due to a sore right hand. …Dallas G Marquis Daniels sat out with a sore left ankle, and coach Don Nelson said Daniels could miss a few more games. …Boston’s Ricky Davis argued a call with 6:51 left and was ejected. …Shawn Bradley of the Mavericks was ejected with 5:18 left for a flagrant foul when he threw an elbow at Justin Reed of the Celtics, and Stackhouse was ejected in the final minute after collecting his second technical. …The teams combined for nine technicals and two flagrant fouls. “With all the technicals, it wasn’t a pretty game in the second half,” said Mavericks assistant coach Avery Johnson.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Boston
J. Welsch J. Welsch
6-8,  17 Pts
5 Rebs, 2 Assists
 Dallas
D. Nowitzki D. Nowitzki
9-18,  29 Pts
11 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists