Boston — Dirk Nowitzki's performance in Boston on Monday night got people talking about another lanky forward who used to play in these parts.
"That young man in the corner has maybe the best stroke I've seen since Larry Bird," Celtics coach Rick Pitino said after Nowitzki scored 31 to lead Dallas to a 106-98 victory over Boston. "He's a terrific basketball player."
After almost missing Sunday night's game in Detroit because of the flu, Nowitzki scored 25 against the Pistons and continued his hot hand on Monday with 19 by the half, going 5-for-7 from three-point range overall.
"Not to put any pressure on Dirk, but everybody's talking about the coming of the next Michael Jordan. ... Dirk reminds me of Larry Bird," Mavericks forward Michael Finley said. "The way he hits the boards; the way he'll take off and go coast to coast. He hits the mid-range jumper. It seems as if it's easy to compare them."
Don't forget about the way he wins in Boston.
With Nowitzki on their side, the Mavericks have won consecutive games at the FleetCenter after winning just once in 18 tries since the franchise was founded in 1980.
Steve Nash added 20 points with 14 assists to give the Mavericks their third straight win since coach Don Nelson missed three games two of them losses when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. They finished their road trip 4-2.
"We all like to play for Don Nelson. He's a great coach and he put the team together," Nowitzki said. "We really picked it up since our two losses and we made it a nice trip for us."
Paul Pierce scored 30 for Boston, and Antoine Walker had 20 with 17 rebounds as the Celtics lost their fourth consecutive game.
Afterward, Pitino put guard Kenny Anderson on the injured list.
"I'm out of sync out there," said Anderson, who missed 16 games with a broken jaw before returning Dec. 10. "I was kind of naive to think I could sit out a month and then play against the best athletes in the world."
The Mavericks led by 17 after one quarter and nine after two before the Celtics briefly took the lead with an 11-3 run midway through the third.
Nowitzki hit a three-pointer to give Dallas a 66-58 lead with 8:40 left in the third, but Bryant Stith answered with one of his own to cut the lead to five points. Walker made a layup to put Boston within three, but Nash hit a three-pointer for Dallas.
Pierce made two straight jumpers, then stole the ball to give Boston a chance to tie it. It took a few trips down the court, but the Celtics finally took a 70-69 lead on Vitaly Potapenko's three-point play with 5:09 left in the third.
Boston led 76-73 before Gary Trent dunked, then Nowitzki hit a three-pointer to put the Mavericks ahead for good with 2:52 left in the third.