It was a nationally-televised opportunity to shine, with Jaylen Brown voted by coaches to his first NBA All-Star game, and Jayson Tatum to his second.
But on a mixed bag of a night at both ends of the floor, Luka Doncic had the most to say.
The Dallas star hit two late 3-pointers, the second for the win with 0.1 seconds left, to sink the Celtics, 110-107, on Tuesday night. The loss was the Celtics second straight, and dropped them below .500 to 15-16.
Doncic finished with 31 points.
Brown’s pull-up jumper with 37.6 seconds left gave the Celtics a 105-104 lead.
Doncic, after dribbling for an eternity, hit a deep 3-pointer with 15.3 seconds left for a 107-105 Dallas lead.
Brown drove out of the post to tie the score, but with 0.1 seconds left, Doncic hit another deep bomb for the game.
Jalen Brunson’s 3-pointer — his fourth of the night — boosted the Dallas lead to 101-89 with 4 minutes left.
Kemba Walker finished off the break, halting the Dallas run at 14-2. But Brunson buried his fifth 3-pointer for a 104-93 Dallas lead.
Walker came right back with a four-point play with 2:48 left. Tatum pulled up for a 3-pointer with 2:29 left, cutting the Mavs lead to 104-100.
Doncic missed under pressure from Tatum, and the Celtics forward kicked out to Walker for a 3-pointer, cutting the Dallas lead to 104-103. Tim Hardaway Jr. launched an air ball, but Tatum touched the ball as it bounced out of bounds.
Celtics pressure forced a shot-clock violation, as Brunson committed an offensive foul leaning into Walker while attempting a 3.
The Celtics took possession with 1:23 left, but Walker missed from the top of the arc. Turnovers on both sides ensued until Brown hit a pull-up from the lane for a 104-103 Celtics lead.
Dallas closed out the third quarter with an 11-5 run, including a Doncic 3-pointer that was good for a quarter-ending 80-76 lead.
Walker, 3-for-11 over the first three quarters, missed again to open the fourth quarter, though two possessions later he drove to cut the Mavs lead to two points. His 3-pointer a minute later was good for an 83-82 Celtics lead.
Robert Williams, fouled off a great feed under the basket from Walker, missed both free throws, and paid for it when James Johnson drove for a brief lead, until Brown scored.
There were 21 lead changes to that point, and Brunson, with a 3-point play off the break, made it 22.
Williams’ monstrous tip dunk of a Tatum miss tied the score at 87-87, but the Celtics set the stage for a four-point Dallas swing when the Mavs chased down a missed Willie Cauley-Stein free throw, with Brunson converting the possession from downtown.
Doncic’s put-back extended the Dallas run to 9-2 for a 93-87 lead with 6:37 left.
Tatum came out of a timeout with a miss from the lane, and fouled Doncic down the other end. The Dallas star hit only the second of two free throws for a seven-point lead. Tristan Thompson missed at the rim, but the next time down Brown cut the margin to five with a rainbow floater.
Tatum was called for a hook, Walker fouled Brunson, and the guard hit twice for a 97-89 Dallas lead.
The Celtics continued to miss when, with 4 minutes left, Brunson buried a 3-pointer.