The Boston Celtics got another look at life without Rajon Rondo on Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks, and things did not go well. With Rondo serving a two-game league suspension without pay for throwing the ball at the chest of an official on Sunday in a game against the Detroit Pistons, Boston turned in a clueless offensive performance. Accordingly, they never led at any point in a 89-73 road loss to the Mavs. Paul Pierce still managed 20 points on 7-13 shooting and Ray Allen added 15 more on 6-15, but without Rondo and Kevin Garnett (family reasons) the Celtics shot just 39.2 percent as a team and turned the ball over (16 times) almost as often as they assisted each other (17). No Rondo,
no big problem.
Dallas didn't shoot much better as a team (40.4 percent), but they protected the ball well (8 TOs), moved the ball effectively (26 assists) and rode a solid night from Dirk Nowitzki. His game-high 26 points came on a middling 10-24 shooting, but Dirk's game-high 16 rebounds marked the most by the star big man since Jan. 13, 2010. The Mavericks secured a double-digit advantage midway through the second quarter that never fell back to a single figures and peaked at 26 in the final period, so a lot of the most interesting bits from the game involve milestones hit by Mavs veterans.
Avery Bradley picked up the start in place of Rondo, and although he scored well enough in 33 minutes of action (12 points on 6-11 FG), the second-year player failed in his role as a facilitator and creator (two assists). When Michael Pietrus leads the team with a measly four assists and the entire squad combines for 18 points in the paint, the backcourt has clearly failed to do its job. The pressure consequently heaped on Paul Pierce forced him to press a bit and fumble away five turnovers in the process. In a way, it's fitting that on the night he hit a season-high in points, Avery Bradley's most significant moment game came when Dirk Nowitzki blocked his layup attempt early in the first quarter -- it was Dirk's 1,000th rejection of his career.
Blocks aside, Nowitzki hit his biggest milestone of the night on a free throw capping a three-point play in the first quarter when he moved up to the No. 20 rank for all-time scoring leaders in NBA history, passing Robert Parish's mark of 23,334 points. After securing his new spot in league history, Dirk added 14 more points in the second quarter to push the Dallas lead to 44-33 at the half, and Jason Kidd passed Michael Jordan's 2,514 steals for the No. 2 spot on the NBA's all-time list, as the Mavs cruised to a win.
Zone looks from Boston in third quarter led to the highest scoring period for Dallas, and then starters for both teams moved to the bench for most of the fourth quarter. In the final frame Jason Terry capped off his solid 16-point, 6-assist night with pair of assists and a handful of points to keep the game firmly out of reach. Monday's contest marked a rare night where everyone on the floor for both teams, except for Nowitzki and Terry, played a mediocre-or-worse game. Unfortunately for the Celtics, many of their performances skewed towards the "or worse" option. Perhaps Jason Terry put it best in his post game comments:
"They were two men down without Rondo and K.G., so a different ball club. They tried to junk up the game and I thought we did an excellent job of being patient and getting what we wanted on the offensive end."