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Pierce's late show helps Celtics rally past Mavs

PAUL Pierce scored 18 of his team-high 31 points in the fourth quarter to spark champions Boston Celtics to a second-half rally for a 99-92 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.

The Celtics forward put in two straight jump shots in the final minute, and point guard Rajon Rondo recorded a triple double with 19 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists to help Boston (44-11) head into the All-Star break with a momentous road win.

"This is going to make the All-Star weekend that much sweeter," Pierce told reporters. "It was the last game before the break, and a big win for us tonight.

"I felt good that whole fourth quarter. We kept running the same play and just took advantage of it."

Kevin Garnett had 16 points as the Celtics won their ninth straight road game. Ray Allen added 20 despite a hand injury picked up the night before against the New Orleans Hornets.

Mavericks All-Star Dirk Nowitzki poured in a game-high 37 points, including a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:28 left. Pierce responded with an 11-footer on Boston's next possession and then added a pullup to make it 95-91 with 38 seconds left.

The Celtics trailed 50-65 with 6:37 left in the third before turning it up a level defensively. The defending NBA champions held Dallas to just 17 points in the final quarter and closed the game with a 20-8 run. Josh Howard had 17 points for the Mavericks (31-21) before fouling out with 3:47 to go.

Already without sixth man Jason Terry, who broke his left hand on Saturday, the Mavericks' offense went cold down the stretch. Nowitzki made just 6-of-18 shots in the second half.

Boston coach Doc Rivers was ejected late in the third quarter of the hotly contested game that featured six technical fouls. "I watched the game from the back," Rivers said. "We just needed something. "This one was important because we had no energy, no life."

In Chicago, Shawn Marion's dunk with a second left gave Miami a thrilling 95-93 win over Chicago. Dwyane Wade, who finished with 24 points, found Marion for the decisive dunk.

The win meant Miami went into the season break with the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

In Oakland, California, Golden State brought up a third straight victory by defeating Portland 105-98.

Corey Maggette had 24 points and Monta Ellis made three key late baskets for the Warriors, who led by 18 points in the second half but saw Portland pull within four with 25 seconds remaining.


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