Celtics fall to Mavs, 90-85, drop below .500

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Celtics fall to Mavs, 90-85, drop below .500

BOSTON Four days with nothing but rest and reps for the Boston Celtics didn't produce the kind of start they were hoping for against the Dallas Mavericks.

The finish was better, but it wasn't enough as the battle for better-than-average status was won by Dallas, 90-85.

Rajon Rondo finished with 24 points and seven assists in the losing effort.

After a 3-pointer from Paul Pierce tied the game at 85, Dirk Nowitzki scored while being fouled with 5.1 seconds to play.

Nowitzki, who had 16 points, made the free throw which put the Mavericks ahead 88-85.

Following a Celtics time-out, Boston turned the ball over on the in-bounds, which all but sealed the victory for Dallas.

The victory put the Mavericks (6-5) above .500 for the first time this season, and dropped the C's (4-5) below .500.

After falling behind 10-2 and trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half, Boston took its first lead early in the third quarter on a Ray Allen jumper.

A Jermaine O'Neal jumper - seriously, he took a shot and made it - soon came, and that was followed by a pair of Allen technical foul free throws after Mavericks coach and former Celtic Rick Carlisle was ejected.

But the C's momentum didn't last long.

Boston led by five points, only for the Mavs to counter with a 21-6 run to go back on top by double digits.

The Celtics got off to a nice start to the first, but their Achilles heel - rebounding - once again proved to be problematic.

Trailing 68-64, they forced a miss only to have Dirk Nowitzki out-work Kevin Garnett for the loose ball. Moments later, Nowitzki beat Garnett off the dribble for a lay-up.

Boston continued to battle, but the frustration of not being able to get over the hump began to set in as Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers were each whistled for a technical foul in the fourth - a no-no, according to Rivers.

Report: Marchand agrees to eight-year extension with Bruins

Report: Marchand agrees to eight-year extension with Bruins

The Bruins took care of their biggest priority today as they reached agreement with Brad Marchand on an eight-year contract extension, according to several reports.

Elliotte Friedman reports Marchand has agreed to an eight year, $49 millionextension ($6.125 million per season) that will effectively allow him to finish his career in Boston.

It was felt the Bruins would have been playing with fire if they allowed Marchand -- a 37-goal scorer last year -- to start the season unsigned, especially after he ripped up the World Cup of Hockey competition on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby. Bruins president Cam Neely told CSN a couple of weeks ago that Boston was aiming to get the deal done with Marchand prior to the start of the regular season. In fact, they managed to get it done before the start of even the preseason.

Marchand has consistently said that he wants to finish out his career with the Bruins, who drafted and developed him and with whom he turned into an elite player in the last couple of years. He’s clearly taking a hometown discount to stick with Boston.

This is what Marchand said to CSN on breakup day last April:

“I obviously love being a part of this organization, this city and this team, and I don’t think this team is done having some good runs. I would love to be a part of this organization for the rest of my career, but the reality is when you look around the league that it doesn’t happen for many guys. We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”

Well, the time came and Marchand put his money where his sometimes big mouth usually is. The Bruins agitator easily could have demanded a yearly salary of $7 million-plus in free agency.

Credit to Don Sweeney and Neely for closing the deal with Marchand, and ticking one very important thing off their checklist that will help make the Bruins great again.

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

When will Bill Belichick retire? The Patriots coach is 64 years old, and he's been on record saying that he won't be coaching into his 70s like former Bills head coach Marv Levy. But it sure seems like Belichick has plenty of energy to stay at the job for some time, and the results, you may have noticed, have been pretty good. 

MORE FROM McDANIELS: 'Don't know' who'll play quarterback Sunday

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joined WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning, and he was asked about how much longer his boss might work. Would McDaniels be surprised if Belichick coached into his 70s despite what he said on NFL Network's A Football Life documentary back in 2009?

"It wouldn't surprise me," McDaniels said. "I know Bill loves football. His drive and his passion for the game and to try to do everything we can to prepare our team to win each week, I haven't seen one change in it. It's a great privilege to coach for him. He certainly kind of sets the tone for us. I don't see any difference in that since when I first started here. I look forward to coaching for him for as long as he'll let me."

Some have speculated that McDaniels could be the next head coach of the Patriots whenever Belichick decides to hang up his whistle. The 40-year-old has been up for head coaching positions since he's returned for his second stint in New England, but he's still with the organization that gave him his first NFL job in 2001. 

McDaniels, who left to be the head coach of the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, was asked if he values the offensive coordinator job with the Patriots more than a head coaching opportunity that might not be the perfect fit.

"I love where I'm at," McDaniels said. "I've said before I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and potentially move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn't. But I know this: I'm really thankful to have the opprtunity that I have to coach the players we have here and to work underneath Bill and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It's a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. Just thankful that I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week."