J.J. Barea has made a strong case as the Dallas Mavericks' early-season MVP, and the diminutive point guard put on another show Saturday night to overshadow Kyrie Irving in a 113-104 victory over the visiting Boston Celtics.
Barea finished with 20 points, eight assists and a pair of steals in 26 minutes off the bench. He scored seven points in the definitive opening seven minutes of the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer with 5:44 to go putting Dallas ahead 103-90.
The lead grew to 16 moments later and struggling Boston was unable to recover.
The win, the seventh in nine games for the Mavs, got them to .500 for the first time this season. Meanwhile, Boston, playing without Gordon Hayward due to ankle soreness, couldn't complete a road sweep in back-to-back games after winning at Atlanta on Friday night, and fell back to a surprising .500 record after 20 games.
Mavs forward Harrison Barnes matched Barea with 20 points, including going 5 of 7 from beyond the arc. All of his 3s came in the first half as Dallas made its first seven 3-point shots of the game and opened a lead as large as 12 points en route to a 59-56 halftime lead.
Boston finally grabbed its first lead of the game, 74-73, with 5:26 to play in the third quarter. But it was short-lived as Dallas rolled off five consecutive points following a timeout and used a 10-3 run to take a five-point lead into the final period.
Devin Harris helped Dallas' cause in the fourth quarter by scoring the first five points for a 92-84 lead. Harris, another constant spark off the bench, finished with nine points.
DeAndre Jordan posted his 12th double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Wesley Matthews and Luka Doncic each contributed 15 points and three 3-pointers.
Jayson Tatum led five Celtics in double figure with 21 points. Kyrie Irving had 19 but was held to 9-of-24 shooting from the floor and missed all five of his 3-point attempts. Marcus Smart had 19 points, Jaylen Brown added 16 and Marcus Morris finished with 13.
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