So maybe Game 3 wasn’t a total loss, after all.

The Dallas Mavericks, playing Game 4 from the start with the urgency and pace that fueled an ultimately futile 20-2 fourth-quarter run in Game 3, exorcised a lot of frustration and earned themselves a return trip to Boston with a resounding 122-84 win, reducing the Celtics’ best-of-seven series lead to 3-1.

Game 5 will be Monday in TD Garden.

The win also saved the Mavericks from the ignominy of being the first Western Conference team to get swept in the NBA Finals since the Detroit Pistons put a fork in the post-Kareem Abdul Jabbar Los Angeles Lakers in 1989.

After fouling out with more than four minutes to play in Game 3 and that 20-2 burst having shrunk a 21-point Boston lead to 93-90 in less than seven minutes, Luka Dončić focused on finding his teammates and the basket rather than fault with the officials. The result: 29 points and his best assist/turnover ratio so far, with five dimes and only one turnover. Kyrie Irving was equally balanced and efficient as a scorer and playmaker, with 21 points, six assists and only one turnover.

Their largesse resulted in a host of other Mavericks contributing points. Five finished in double figures and — in part because of the lengthy garbage time — 13 made the scoring column.

Someone also apparently reminded the Mavericks that without center Kristaps Porzingis — who was listed as available but did not play because of his left leg injury — the Celtics are height-challenged. Dallas took full advantage of that, crushing Boston on the boards, 65-39, and points in the paint, 60-26.

After seeing his team unable to cut into a 26-point halftime deficit, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla set an unofficial record for earliest outcomes conceded, inserting his end-of-the-bench brigade with more than three minutes left in the third quarter and Dallas leading, 88-52.

Did the Mavericks discover something or was this simply a combination of a prideful team playing on its home floor against an opponent letting its foot off the proverbial gas pedal? Monday night will provide an answer.

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has written two books, “Rebound,” on NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with young onset Parkinson’s, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds.” He also has a daily podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher.” Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

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