BOSTON – (Wire Service Report – Special to Digital Sports Desk) – Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, taking advantage of injuries to the Dallas Mavericks backcourt, put on a one-man show down the stretch at TD Garden Wednesday night.
With Deron Williams, J.J. Barea and Devin Harris all out with injuries by game’s end, Thomas, who had been quiet most of the night, exploded for 20 points and a dynamic assist in the final 6:01 to carry Boston to a 90-83 victory over the Mavericks.
Thomas, who hasn’t scored fewer than 23 points in a game this season, was 3-for-13 from the floor through three quarters and then erupted, finishing with 30 points (22 in the fourth quarter), six assists and four rebounds.
With no real guards to cover him, Thomas fouled 7-footer Andrew Bogut out with a 3-point attempt (he hit the three free throws) and then drove past 6-11 Dwight Powell on the next two possession.
Thomas heard chants of “M-V-P” as he hit two free throws with 41.4 seconds left.
He scored all but four of Boston’s points down the stretch. Avery Bradley, who finished with 18 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, scored the other points, one a slam dunk off a behind-the-back Thomas feed.
Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews did their best to keep the Mavericks alive, but with Dirk Nowitzki on the bench in street clothes and the guards hurt, Dallas (2-8) just ran out of gas. Barnes finished with 28 points, and Matthews had 22.
Kelly Olynyk was the only other double-figure scorer for the Celtics, with 10 points.
Williams, who returned to the Dallas lineup after missing four games with a calf injury, logged 9:34 in the first half, didn’t score, missed all three shots, two from 3-point range, then left the game and didn’t return.
Berea, who had been starting in place of Williams, went to the floor in pain with a left leg injury in the fourth quarter and was helped from the floor. He had nine points and six assists in 28 minutes off the bench.
There were no free throws in the second quarter, with Dallas taking just one in the half — and that one was on a technical foul on a defensive three-second call. The Celtics (6-5) were 2-for-6 from the line. The two teams that had gone to the line the fewest times in the league combined for seven attempts in the half.
The Celtics held a 39-31 halftime lead as Dallas shot just 31.1 percent from the floor in the first 24 minutes.
It took more than two minutes for either team to score in the third quarter but Boston, which led by as many as 12 in the first half, used a 7-2 run to lead 46-34.
The Mavs then took their first free throw after an actual foul with 7:18 left in the third quarter — and four straight foul shots and a basket by Barnes cut the lead to six.
Dallas took its first lead of the game with 8:14 left in the game and actually led by four with 6:16 remaining.
Thomas, who also had five of Boston’s 19 turnovers, then took over, starting his run with a 3-pointer.
NOTES: F Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles) and G Devin Harris (toe) remained out for the Mavericks. On Nowitzki, who missed his fifth straight game, coach Rick Carlisle said: “He’s not going to play. He worked out this morning hard. He’s getting closer, but he’s not there yet.” … The Celtics were still missing F Al Horford (concussion) and F Jae Crowder (ankle), but both should be close to a return, with Crowder expected to practice Thursday. Coach Brad Stevens said both players had “a great workout” earlier Wednesday. … The Mavericks host the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. The Celtics complete their two-game homestand against the Golden State Warriors on Friday before they depart on a three-game road trip.