DALLAS -- The Boston Celtics still haven't recovered from their draining home defeat against the Miami Heat earlier this week and dropped their second consecutive road game, 104-94 to the Dallas Mavericks Friday night.
The Mavs never trailed as they bounced back from a double-digit home loss two nights earlier to the Brooklyn Nets. Dallas built a 30-19 lead in the first quarter against the sluggish Celtics and led by as many as 14 in the third quarter.
Dallas was buoyed by big games from Dirk Nowitzki (22 points), center Brandan Wright (23 points), who was inserted into the starting lineup and sixth man Vince Carter (19 points).
A late spurt got Boston within 97-92, but the rally was thwarted when Mavs guard O.J. Mayo buried a 3-pointer for a 100-92 cushion with 1:21 remaining.
It was a vital win for Dallas, which needs to make up ground in a hurry during this season-long six-game homestand if it any hopes of making the playoffs.
"It's a huge win for us because we've got to win as many as we possibly can," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Boston's a team that's been playing well. We've got to validate this by coming out on Sunday (against the Utah Jazz) and doing it again, playing this kind of game again."
Boston (36-32), which has lost three in a row and five of seven with a game at Memphis Saturday night, had little going offensively outside of Kevin Garnett, who had 14 of his 16 points through the first three quarters, and Brandon Bass, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Veteran guard Jason Terry, in his first game back in Dallas since leaving the franchise he spent eight seasons with and won the 2011 championship, managed just eight points off the bench on 3-of-9 shooting.
"All I was worried about was getting a win," said Terry, who had around 100 family members and friends in attendance. "We have to end this road trip on a good note. Right now we're just not getting it done."
But Paul Pierce also had a quiet night with 16 points, just seven through three quarters, on 5-of-9 shooting. Jordan Crawford scored five of his nine points on consecutive possessions for a quick spark to start the fourth quarter to make it 81-75, but Dallas ran its lead back to a dozen with five minutes to go.
"We were attacking, we were being aggressive," Pierce said. "Some nights they fall and some nights they don't. The one thing we can control is our effort on the defensive end."
The Celtics, 5 of 17 on 3-point shots, trailed 79-68 after three quarters with Garnett and Bass being the only Boston players having scored in double figures and combining for 30 points.
Dallas (33-36), which shot 46.3 percent for the game, used an 8-1 finishing kick to end the first half and head to the locker room with a 55-44 lead. Nowitzki, Wright and Carter combined for 38 of the Mavs' first-half points.
The Mavs' defense limited Boston to 41.8 percent shooting, with the Celtics missing numerous attempts around the rim, and held a 48-38 rebounding advantage.
"We missed a lot of shots all through the game," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't mind that. You want them to make them, but I just thought we got lost tonight. We gave up a 30-point quarter (in the first quarter), which we don't do. If you take that away, who knows how the game goes. Overall, I thought we played hard and I thought we had a lot of fight."
Mavs led 30-21 after the first quarter on 52.2 percent shooting. The Celtics, having lost two in a row and four of six entering the game, came out sluggish, falling behind 11-4 and then 30-19 with less than a minute to go in the opening period and shot just 37.1 percent in the first half.
Shawn Marion recorded a double-double for Dallas with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Mayo finished with 10 points and nine assists.
Boston forward Jeff Green, who scored 43 points against Miami, had 10 against Dallas and has 23 in Boston's two road losses since losing to the Heat.
NOTES: Celtics guard Courtney Lee left the game late in the fourth quarter with a left ankle sprain. He said he hopes to be able to play Saturday at Memphis. ... Terry played his first game back in Dallas since leaving the franchise last summer as free agent after eight seasons. He wore his 2011 championship ring to the arena. He received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd upon checking in at the 3:57 mark of the first quarter. ... Mavs forward Shawn Marion started after missing eight consecutive games with a calf strain. ... Nowitzki was injured for the first meeting in Boston, a double-overtime victory for the Celtics. In his previous 26 career games against Boston, Nowitzki has a 26.9 scoring average, his highest against any opponent. ... Three of the four active players among the top 20 on the NBA's all-time scoring list were in the starting lineups: No. 15 Garnett, No. 18 Nowitzki and No. 20 Pierce. Kobe Bryant is No. 5.