It took two overtimes, but the Boston Celtics held down home court in defeating the Dallas Mavericks, 117-115, Wednesday night.
The home team had an opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation and the first overtime period, but stout individual defense held them short.
The Mavericks turned the ball over 27 times, the exact number of assists they had and were careless all night. Down three with seconds remaining, they threw away the inbounds pass on what would have been a final attempt to tie the game.
Paul Pierce led all scorers with 34 points and was a workhorse for the Celtics over 44 minutes. Rajon Rondo came up a rebound shy of his second triple-double in three games, as the point guard finished just one rebound shy of the rare distinction.
O.J. Mayo scored his 24 points, but it took 52 minutes to do so and came with a side of nine turnovers.
The win was Boston's second in a row and improves them to 12-9 on the season. Dallas slides back to .500 with the loss, standing at 11-11.
Let's hit the classroom and see how everyone graded out in this long Celtics win.
Derek Fisher, DAL PG: C+
Fisher fouled out in the first overtime period, but not before making his veteran presence felt. Despite having an off-night, Fisher was able to step up his defense on the final possession of regulation. He squared up Rajon Rondo and bothered his shot enough to create an air-ball, extending the game.
When he fouled out, Fisher had 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting to go with four assists. His final defensive stand and overall presence on the floor in crunch time elevated his grade a half-point.
Rajon Rondo, BOS PG: A
Anytime you see a line with 15 assists and 16 points (8-of-14), that player is getting a high grade. Rajon Rondo didn't stop there, though. In 53 minutes, the Celtics' star point guard swiped three steals, a couple of them in clutch situations, and grabbed nine rebounds.
Playing with five fouls for roughly all of overtime, Rondo was still able to make his defensive presence felt.
With Dallas pulling close behind his team late in the third, Rondo bucketed two jumpers at the end of the quarter. The second of those was a buzzer-beater to push the score to 76-70. He then scored the first basket of the fourth quarter.
Rondo continued his strong play throughout the overtime periods. He did make questionable decisions at the end of regulation and the first overtime. Still, with 30 seconds remaining, Rondo hit a layup giving his team a three-point lead. He then grabbed the crucial defensive rebound on the ensuing Dallas miss.
O.J. Mayo, DAL PG: B
O.J. Mayo was clearly the focal point of the Celtics defense and he was held to a quiet nine points through three quarters, as Courtney Lee and Jason Terry really caused problems for the high-scoring guard early on. The Celtics help defense never let him get into an offensive rhythm.
He was able to break free was responsible for most of the Mavericks offense late in the game and through the overtime periods, finishing with 24 points, but it was never pretty. Nine turnovers really hampered his rhythm and that of the Mavericks as a whole.
Jason Terry, BOS PG: C
There were definitely some nerves as Jason Terry faced off against the team he spent much of his career with. His shooting touch was understandably a bit off (3-of-10), but he made up for it with some big defensive plays and excellent communication.
Communication is an underrated part of Terry's game, particularly on defense, where he is too slow to man-up with O.J. Mayo one-on-one. He and Rondo often combined to play a sort of dual defense on Dallas' star.
Terry did have a nice three-point play at the beginning of OT to give the Celtics a quick lead, and he finished with 10 points and three assists.
Dahntay Jones, DAL SF: B
In his fifth start of the season, Dahntay Jones was effective and efficient with his 32 minutes, putting up 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
Jones wasn't able to get a whole lot done in terms of slowing Paul Pierce and Jeff Green, but a lot of that is a size disadvantage.
He redeemed his defensive shortcomings at the end of the first overtime. He was able to keep Pierce off the spot he loves for those buzzer-beating shots; his stout defense on that possession caused Pierce to put up an ill-advised fadeaway.
Paul Pierce, BOS SF: A-
Paul Pierce got off to a fast start and made some big shots throughout. The Celtics captain finished with 34 points on 11-of-25 shooting.
He took a lot of shots, but not any more than he needed to. He made an iffy decision at the end of the first overtime, getting off a low-percentage shot that didn't reach the rim. However, he scored the majority of the Celtics points in extra time, including 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
He was also big on the defensive end with four steals and six rebounds.
Overall this was an inefficient, but necessary game from Pierce. If this is what he can continue to give in these types of drawn-out games, the C's have to be happy. Given his age and minutes, this was a pretty great game.
Shawn Marion, DAL PF: A-
Shawn Marion did a little bit of everything against the Celtics. The pseudo-power forward came within shouting distance of a triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
His shot wasn't falling particularly well (6-of-14), but that hardly ever affects Marion's game. Wednesday night was no different, as he played solid defense on pretty much everyone in the Celtics frontcourt. Brandon Bass' game works well against plodding power forwards, but against guys like Marion, it fails.
Marion was able to float out to the perimeter and stymie Bass' shooting, as well as hang low and bang with Kevin Garnett late in the game and through overtime.
Brandon Bass, BOS PF: C+
It was another one of those silently mediocre games for Brandon Bass. He hit a couple patented elbow-jumpers, but did little else across the board.
Bass finished with nine points and seven rebounds, but was largely a forgotten man as Jeff Green took all of the crunch-time minutes in OT.
As Green continues to prove himself as an aggressive player on offense, Bass' role is going to decrease. This shouldn't be any different from last season, when he would miss crunch minutes for Mickael Pietrus and Ray Allen, but it feels somewhat different. I don't think he is in danger of losing his starting job, but it has to sting slightly not to see any late-game action.
Chris Kaman, DAL C: B
After a very good first half, Chris Kaman was rarely utilized late in the game. As the tempo sped up, Dallas was forced to phase Kaman out and go small.
He isn't built to play against small teams like Boston, and will be held out of games as such. Kaman saw just 24 minutes in a double-overtime game, but did produce 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and five rebounds.
Kevin Garnett, BOS C: B
Garnett started 3-of-3 from the field in the first quarter and was off to the races before falling back to earth. Those six points all came in the first seven minutes of the game; since he finished with just 16 points, we can easily judge how the rest of the game went.
Despite his offensive inconsistency, defense is an area where Garnett never faltered. His stout play in the paint for Boston led to a bunch of steals, both for him and teammates. Even those numbers seem low for the overall effect he had on the Mavericks offense. They were forced to change a lot of their sets and possessions to account for the lack of production going at Garnett early on.
He proved what an automatic scorer he is from deep mid-range at the end of overtime. Garnett took a pass from Rajon Rondo and didn't think twice before depositing it in the hoop from 20 feet.
Vince Carter, DAL SG: B-
Another solid all-around game from Vince Carter coming off the bench. In 36 minutes, Carter posted 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
He nailed an enormous three with under 10 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, bringing the Mavericks to within one. He also came up with three rebounds and a crucial block on Rondo in the final five minutes.
Right now, this is the most the Mavericks can ask for out of the 35-year-old Carter. He will continue giving Dallas solid, albeit limited, play across the board, and hit some big shots down the stretch of games.
Jeff Green, BOS SF: B
Jeff Green came into this game on somewhat of a hot streak. You could say that continued against Dallas, or at least a portion of it did.
That part was the aggression. Green connected on just 5-of-16 shots for 15 points Not a great evening offensively, but it is a pleasure to watch him attack consistently. That is the number of shots you want to see him get up once in a while.
Boston has seen enough of the four- and five-shot games from Green. He is growing as a confident player with every game and this is just what his team needs from him. The 27 minutes seem low, considering he was a staple late in the game.
Dallas Mavericks Bench: A-
Darren Collison was the difference-maker for the Mavericks. He came off the bench on fire, scoring 15 points in regulation. He continued that scoring into the extra period, grabbing another five points and finishing with 20 on 8-of-11 shooting.
Collison was huge in an off-night for Derek Fisher and was forced to play the entire overtime periods after the veteran Fisher fouled out. He picked up six assists and three steals in what may have been his best game of the season.
Elton Brand caused problems for the small Celtics second unit, using his size and perimeter abilities to grab seven rebounds and score nine points.
Boston Celtics Bench: B-
The strange production of Chris Wilcox continued Wednesday night. The reserve center scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in just 16 minutes. However, almost all of that production came in the first half of the game. This is a developing issue with Boston's bench, as Wilcox is seldom utilized after the intermission.
Elsewhere, Courtney Lee played solid defense off the bench, matching up with O.J. Mayo often. He also hit a three and managed seven points on 2-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes.