Preseason games have their own peculiar charm, and this one was highlighted by a spectacular performance by rookie Mark Acres. The former Oral Roberts star, who a year ago was performing for the Mariandenne team in Namur, Belgium, helped propel the Celtics to victory with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks (one a monster when the squad was trailing by 1 with just under three minutes to play) and a deft assist. K.C. Jones gave him 29 minutes of playing time, and the aggressive Acres responded with a tremendous effort.
"Mark Acres stood out on Friday night (against Houston)," said Jones, "and today he was outstanding. He was a fighter on the boards."
Acres was part of an all-bench finishing quintet that rescued the Celtics from a 12-point (99-87) fourth-quarter deficit.
And so he left the unit of Acres, Lohaus, Daye, Rick Carlisle and Conner Henry out there to mop up and accept their assured fate.
But a funny thing happened on the way to defeat. This unit began to mesh at both ends. They closed to a pair (106-104) on two Acres free throws with 5:49 left, fell back to 6 down at 110-104 (5:07) and finally caught the Mavericks (then in the midst of a field goal drought lasting 4:46) with a pair of Henry free throws that made it 112-111 with 2:58 remaining.
During the big run, all sorts of interesting things happened. Henry (11 for 11 from the line) twice wormed his way to the stripe at the expiration of the 24-second clock. Acres blocked a Derek Harper layup at 111-110, Dallas. Acres and Carlisle worked a sweet two-on-one fast break from a sidelines out-of- bounds at 118-115 (:58).
The 6-foot-9 1/2-inch Acres had earned the fourth-quarter time with relentless board-banging. He picked up 13 of his points on the offensive boards, in fact, prompting the Mavericks' brass to wonder where the one-time Dallas draft pick had learned to be so tough.
"He was timid when we had him," said GM Norm Sonju.