The beards are going to be extremely itchy as the Dallas Mavericks suffered a heartbreaking 105-101 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The loss put a wet blanket on the run the Mavericks were on as they had won three of their previous four games and three home games in a row. Josh Smith tallied a game-high 26 points to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds and six assists in 40 minutes for Atlanta in the win.
Dirk Nowitzki scored a team-high 24 points to go with seven rebounds, two steals and one block in 36 minutes. It his fourth game with 20-plus points this season, and his second-highest scoring game of the year (26 at Portland Jan. 29). One of Nowitzki’s team-high seven boards came on the offensive end. He is now tied with Mark Aguirre (1,259) for second place on the Mavericks’ all-time offensive rebounding list. James Donaldson is Dallas’ all-time leader with 1,296 offensive boards.
The game saw Atlanta start on a 10-0 run and lead the entire first half. The Mavericks continued to scratch and claw their way back into the game and even took their first lead of the game with just over 11 minutes to go in the game. With a chance to take the lead and less than a minute to go, O.J. Mayo raced down the floor in transition. As he was about to make his final approach to the rim, Devin Harris swatted the ball out of Mayo’s hands and caused a turnover. The Mavericks were still within 3 with less than 30 seconds to go and Mayo’s pass to a rolling Vince Carter went astray.
The Mavericks’ playoff chances took a major hit with the crippling loss to the Hawks. It also showed the late-game execution continues to haunt Dallas. According to TV play-by-play voice of the Mavericks Mark Followill, the loss to the Hawks dropped the Mavericks to 8-13 in games where the margin is within 3 points in the final minute of the fourth quarter.
Here are some notes before the quotes:
- Dirk went 3-of-4 from beyond the arc against Atlanta. His third trey of the game at the 6.4-second mark of the fourth quarter was the 1,300th triple of his career. He became the 29th player in NBA history with at least 1,300 triples (he’s shot 1,300-of-3,423, .380, from deep for his career).
- Brandan Wright 5-of-6 from the field and contributed 11 points off the bench. It was his 13th double-digit scoring game of the season.
- The Hawks outshot the Mavericks 50 percent (22-of-44) to 45.7 percent (21-of-46) from the field in the first half. Atlanta outscored Dallas 14-2 in transition and 28-18 in the paint in the first half. But the Mavericks outshot the Hawks 41.7 percent (5-of-12) to 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from beyond the arc before intermission and trailed by only one (49-48) at the break.
Here’s the quoteboard for Dallas’ loss to Atlanta.
On the execution at the end of the game being the difference: “The game was lost in the first three minutes when we were down 10-0. We weren’t ready to play. If you want it simple, that’s simple. It’s on me. I didn’t have our guys ready to play. I’m taking all the responsibility for this. You’ve got a team of guys that just goes out and is just walking around at the beginning of the game; that’s on the coach.”
On Brandan Wright’s game: “He scored some points and did some good things, but this is not about one guy doing a few good things. We’ve got to be really tough, we’ve got to be really together, and we weren’t tonight and that was disappointing.”
On battling back from the late-game turnovers: “We’ve just got to learn from these things and get better – and we have gotten better. But we haven’t broken the threshold that’s going to make us a team that can really become a dangerous team. I think we’re a dangerous team. I think we can beat anybody on any given night, but the consistency has got to be better.”
The speed the Hawks showed at the beginning of the game: “It hurt us a little bit. I guess we underestimated their speed, to a certain degree. They’ve got some athletes over there.”
On what lead to the flat start: “I don’t know. They got to the hole. They had a very fast lineup with [Jeff] Teague and [Devin] Harris. They were speeding the ball up the court and they got some open lay ups to start the game.”
On what the mood of the team is: “The mood before tonight was we had a chance. We felt good about ourselves and it might have been to our detriment. We might have felt a little too good at the offset of the game. We were feeling good about ourselves and saying ‘hey we have a chance, keep playing well. Two, three in a row, keep stringing them along and come back after the All Star Game refreshed.’ But this one was disappointing.”
On what happened with the final turnover: “They switched right at the point of the screen. I tried to lead him to get a good switch. They switched right at the point and I actually hit him in the head. I probably should have just took Al Horford off the dribble and head to the basket.”
On what happened with the first turnover: “I saw Horford and I tried to gather myself and finish over him. Right at the last dribble when I was trying to gather myself, [Harris] got a hand on the ball.”
On what needs to change at the end of games: “[We] just got to take care of the ball. With Harris chasing me down, Dirk said he was telling me but when the crowd is going, it’s just a pretty good play on his end. …We’ve got to take care of the ball better.”
On the rough start to the game: “Everything was a little too easy for them. …It was a rough start, for sure.”
The slippage in execution at the end of games: “It’s the story of our season. Down the stretch we had our chances and for some reason we can never pull those close games out. We’ve been better a little bit at home, but that’s just a game we’ve got to have no matter what happens. We’ve got to find a way to win that game. Little mistakes add up.”
What has to happen going forward: “We’ve just got to execute better. …We’ve just got to be better and smarter down the stretch.”
The mindset after losing a game they felt they needed to have: “We needed all four of those. It was a tough one. We definitely needed to have that one. I don’t know what to say. …That’s a frustrating loss. That’s probably as frustrating as it gets in this league.”
On how to bounce back from the loss: “It’s going to be a tough film session tomorrow. I already know that. We just have to put it behind us like you always have to in this league.”
After a game where you felt good, defining what the next step is: “If I do feel good like that, I’ve got to be a little more aggressive and make things happen.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.