BOSTON (ESPN.com news services) -- The Boston Celtics look to avoid matching
their longest losing streak of the season Wednesday when they
host the Dallas Mavericks.
After winning 11 of their first 12 games since acquiring Antoine
Walker at the trading deadline, the Celtics have dropped three
straight, including a 105-99 overtime loss to the Detroit
Paul Pierce scored 32 points, including all 11 of Boston's
points in overtime, and Walker and Ricky Davis added 15 apiece
for the Celtics, who have a three-game lead over Philadelphia in
the Atlantic Division.
Gary Payton logged 38 minutes despite playing with back pain. He
underwent an MRI on Monday. It showed "no acute damage" and he should be ready to go.
Boston has not dropped four in a row since early December.
It will not be easy to stop the slide against the Mavericks, who
have won six of their last seven contests and are four games
ahead of Sacramento for the fourth seed in the Western
Conference, which would give them home-court advantage in the
first round of the playoffs.
Josh Howard scored 24 points and Dirk Nowitzki contributed 22
and 10 rebounds as Dallas held its opponent under 90 points for
the third time in six games under Avery Johnson.
The Mavericks will be looking to sweep the season series from
the Celtics for the fifth time in six seasons after posting a
113-94 victory in Dallas on December 28. Nowitzki scored 29
points and the Mavericks shot 53 percent (42-of-79).
Information from SportsTicker was used in this report.