Luka Doncic spun, twisted, twisted, then leaned back at the end and poured a fade-two on Sam Hauser’s head. The second-year forward watched shot after shot rise toward the rafters and come down through the rim during a torturous Thanksgiving Eve for Boston’s turned defenders. But they knew they would need to live to give up some of them.
“Know what you need to live with and know what you need to get rid of,” Joe Mazzola said before the game. “He can get it in many different ways.”
Two proved better than one for CelticsDallas, who had 68 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists as the league’s strongest offense, built a 27-point lead and responded on every run en route to a 125-112 victory. Doncic scored 42 points with eight rebounds and nine assists on a 17-for-28 game, but only Christian Wood stepped up to support the Slovenian star.
Tatum, trailing Dallas by nine points late on, sent him packing at the rim with powerful objects and yells in his direction and into the Celtics bench.
Derrick White, Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Tatum rotated over Doncic in the opening minutes as Joe Mazzola returned to the original starting lineup after eight games as Grant Williams started and injured in the backfield. Doncic beat White early with a difficult fade and three from the left wing. He threw a more nimble early on Horford and pulled him just over Smart. A quarter of 15 points from MVP candidate Bent, but didn’t break Boston as Doncic’s teammates shot 3-for-9.
Brown took the ball in transition and scored seven points in less than two minutes to put the Celtics ahead, 26-14, on a left-handed layup on running back Dorian Feeney Smith. Al Horford found him in the previous two scores when they finished downhill on Dwight Powell, who knocked the Browns out of the game on three early errors.
Doncic resumed his offense in order to fade and grace Sam Howser, but Malcolm Brogdon took a double-digit lead for the Celtics with a pair of pulling threes. Grant Williams and his wife grabbed back-to-back offensive rebounds on the final possession of the quarter, and Brogdon was watching the clock with five seconds left at mid-range, deflecting the shot, driving to the post, and finding the Browns cutting from the top of the post for a. A layup and 13 points also watched Tatum top the scorers’ table.
The Celtics led, 34-23, and entering the second quarter Tatum took the lead with a three and an onside pass to White for his third make-up from deep. Edge attacked again and again to score 11 free throw attempts in the first half, hitting nine. Tatum dropped a pass to layup White, chased down a transitional miss by the Browns for a run back, then closed the frame with eight points in 59 seconds to make it 23 to two quarters. Jason Kidd’s attempt to erase a Javale McGee foul trying to prevent a one-handed jam over center failed, as did Doncic’s 22-point effort as the Mavericks trailed by 21 entering the inning.
Doncic, Vinnie Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie traded triples with Smart keeping up the pace early in the third as the Celtics hit 14 of 24 from deep. After that, Boston cooled to 1-of-4 for the rest of the quarter and slotted in along with some sloppy turnovers. Doncic recovered his free throw miss and got Christian Wood a pair of his own, then slammed it past Brogdon into a slam and made three for Josh Green. He also hit 15 of his 22 attempts from the field, hitting White and spinning a one-handed hook shot and tormenting Hauser on the low block.
White lost the ball trying to cross half the field against pressure from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Brogdon committed a foul offensive display late in the third period. They tried to pressure Doncic, sending Grant and White at him after the halfway point, but a dazzling passer shook both of them, positioning himself and firing a pass to Wood toward the basket that gave the Mavs a chance to enter the fourth down 101-85.
Doncic hit a float and buried Wood’s three to open the fourth, but Tatum answered by pulling two and Grant attacked a shutout to finish inside. Wood, who repeatedly tried to deploy the Celtics’ guards, first succeeded, then fell short on his Brogdon tackle, stunning his defense when Tatum stopped a layup with his tackle to the right of the rim. Boston held out for a 15-point lead until Doncic scored five straight goals to reach 42 points and pull Dallas within 109-99.
The Browns answered with five straight points, including a transitional finish on Wood, but Dinwiddie and Doncic continued to sprinkle passes on the big man to keep Dallas within 10 points. Tatum downhill was led by Smart, who kicked to his left to Horford for three after the Mavs cut the score to 114-105. Then, Tatum threw a dunk and stuffed Doncic at the rim while Brown ran in the transition for the crucial three off Smart, who had nine assists in the win.
Doncic and his teammates, moments later, walked towards their bench down 124-108. They will face their first competition on the strongest attack in the league against Sacramento Kings On Friday at 8:00 EST.