The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 98, Brooklyn Nets 90

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 1, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

CautionNet

Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • Though his box score was not particularly impressive, the play of Chris Kaman (eight points, four rebounds) has set the tone for two straight games. Against the Nets he opened both halves with driving lay ups which seemed to catch their defense off guard. Prior to missing games with a concussion, Kaman had gone to his jump shot a bit too frequently, often at the expense of the flow of the Dallas offense. Though he still missed three long jumpers against the Nets, they were taken later in the shot clock and were not contested particularly hard.
  • The clash of play styles was obvious from the opening tip. A glance at the box score wouldn’t reveal this, but the Mavericks pushed the tempo on Brooklyn at every opportunity and the Nets seemed unsure how to cope. This became particularly apparent in the third quarter and the early part of the fourth as the Dallas lead ballooned to 20 points. The remaining influence of former coach Avery Johnson was clearly apparent, as the Nets ran an oddly methodical offense that bogged down into one on one match ups which Brooklyn could not exploit.
  • Easily the most entertaining match up of the game was Elton Brand (eight points, two steals, two blocks) against Andray Blatche (eight points, three assists). For some reason, they started barking at one another early and Brand managed to surprise Blatche early in the second with a catch and shoot from the post and a lay in after a botched steal attempt. Not to be out done, Blatche went back at Brand, using his superior size and athleticism for a driving lay in. It’s taken me nearly a whole season to figure out how Brand gets off a quality look against a larger defender, particularly out of face up situations. He’s always been a bit undersized for his position and has been robbed of most of his vertical leap due to an Achilles injury. When he gets the ball in the post or off of a pick and role, he nearly always sizes up his opponent before rising to shoot. He rarely seems to get blocked mainly because of the length of his arms combined with a slight fade. It seems as if defenders cannot accurately determine where his point of release is. Brand can make a living with that specific shot against second unit defenses for at least two or three more seasons.
  • It was strange to see the Nets not force feed the ball to Brook Lopez (19 points, nine rebounds), particularly in the third where he did not take a single shot attempt. His confidence and skill from the low block is rare in the modern NBA. He’s much stronger and more patient than a casual fan would give him credit for and really has the chance to be a special player if the Nets run an offense more attuned to getting him the ball. Against Dallas, they attempted point guard cross screens which did not work with regularity because it was clear what was coming.
  • When playing in a fast paced offense, turnovers are going to happen. But with Darren Collison (nine points, four turnovers), so many of his turnovers are the kind that he shouldn’t be making at this point in his career. After a Lopez put back basket, Collison attempted to pass ahead to O.J. Mayo. Carlisle has urged the Mavericks to push even off of a made basket, so this was normal. That Collison was unable to see Deron Williams, who stepped in front of the pass for the steal, is maddening. Later in the third, he had a terrible turnover on the screen and roll, attempting to loop a pass over Lopez. Defending after a live ball turnover is exceptionally challenging because the defense has to scramble to get back. The majority of both Collison and O.J. Mayo’s turnovers during the recently losing streak were of the live ball variety.
  • Though Dallas native Deron Williams (24 points) a had turnover plagued evening with seven, his strengths are so readily apparent. He gets to the rim almost at will, particularly when going right. The sort of strength he uses to get off shots is rare in guards, let alone those who handle the ball so well. It often looks like he’s going half speed, but if he were to run a more up tempo offense or if the Nets went to the high screen and roll with Lopez more often, the Nets might have a terrifying offense.
  • The Nets had no answer for Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, eight rebounds), who hit a variety of tough shots over nearly any Nets defender. He finally hit his patented wrong foot fall away over Kris Humphries in he second quarter. Dirk’s attempted this shot (usually off of a spin) three or four times in the last week and while it’s been impossible to stop in years past, Dirk’s leg strength hasn’t been there for him until recently. I hope it becomes a staple in the remaining games.
  • I’ve highly enjoyed the defensive play of Jae Crowder during the last week’s worth of games. Starting Sunday against the Lakers, he defended Kobe as well as anyone this season (that Kobe made a variety of insane shots is besides the point). He continued with decent defense against J.J. Redick, though Redick is the kind of player who causes any NBA rookie fits simply because he is constantly moving and knows how to use his strengths against opposing players. Against the Grizzlies he helped frustrate Mike Conley into a 2 of 13 shooting performance and against the Nets he made a key strip of C.J. Watson as the Nets were attempting to stage a comeback. Early in the season, Carlisle opted to try him on the various small forwards of the NBA and the size he encountered at the position caused him a variety of problems. He’s been much more effective against smaller or weaker guards who can’t deal with his physicality and quick hands. I still think he can turn into a fine defender against NBA small forwards, but asking a rookie to deal with Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony isn’t the easiest of tasks.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.

 

Thermodynamics: Week 18

Posted by Travis Wimberly on under Commentary, Recaps | Read the First Comment

Ice

Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

It wasn’t the worst week of the Mavs’ season, but it was arguably the most excruciating. It started off with a solid win in New Orleans, then slid rapidly from frustrating (against LA) to inexcusable (against Milwaukee) to downright comical (against Memphis).

Let’s hit all those points in a bit more detail as we wrap up the best and worst of the week.

Week 18 (@Hornets, Lakers, Bucks, @Grizzlies)

FIRE

1) Elton Brand

Brand’s production this week was impressive across the board. He scored well and efficiently, averaging almost 13 points per game on 22-of-40 (55%) cumulative shooting. He pulled down almost nine rebounds per game (despite averaging just 25 minutes and conceding many of his boards to Dirk, discussed next), including an impressive 14-rebound performance against the Bucks. He also defended the post well for most of the week, matching up at various points against Dwight Howard, Larry Sanders, Drew Gooden, and Marc Gasol. Brand didn’t exactly shut any of those guys down (although Howard did have a pretty pitiful game in Dallas), but he worked very hard to make things difficult for them. That segues nicely into the most impressive thing about Brand this week: his effort. Brand played exceptionally hard the vast majority of the time he was on the court. Nowhere was that effort more apparent than against Milwaukee, where Brand repeatedly beat multiple Bucks players (with position, no less) to loose balls and free rebounds. He was a disruptive force in the middle, which is something the Mavs have sorely lacked for most of the year. Sure, Brand’s in a contract year, but the pride with which he plays is palpable. At the right price, I personally would welcome him back next year.

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Quoteboard: Milwaukee Bucks 95, Dallas Mavericks 90

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 27, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

 

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Just when it appeared that it couldn’t get worse for the Mavericks, they found another way to lose the game. The turnover bug found its way to Dirk Nowitzki as he had two key turnovers in the final three minutes of the game. The Milwaukee Bucks were able to convert on both of the turnovers and secured a 95-90 victory over Dallas. The Mavericks had a total of 20 turnovers, leading to 19 points for the Bucks.

The Mavericks spoiled a rare 20/20 game for Dirk. He recorded his sixth career 20-point, 20-rebound game with 21 points to go along with a season-high 20 rebounds, three assists and two steals in 35 minutes against Milwaukee on Tuesday. It was his first 20/20 game since Apr. 3, 2003 vs. the L.A. Lakers (25 points and 22 rebounds). It was his seventh career game with 20-plus rebounds and his first since Dec. 27, 2007 (20 rebounds). Oddly enough, the Mavericks are now 3-3 in games where Dirk has scored at least 20 points and grabbed at least 20 rebounds in the same game.

Nowitzki, who had a season-high 30 points and a then season-high 13 rebounds against the Lakers in their previous game, recorded his second consecutive double-double (second of the season, 371stcareer). Nowitzki is averaging 25.3 points and 13.3 rebounds over his last three games. He is shooting 55.8 percent (29-of-52) from the field and 70 percent (7-of-10) from 3-point range in that span. Nowitzki is averaging 21.5 points and 10.7 rebounds over his last six games. He is shooting 53.4 percent (47-of-88) from the field and 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from deep in that span.

Monta Ellis spoiled Dirk’s night as he ending up having a game-high 22 points. He scored 11 of his 22 points in the final quarter. He also added a game-high nine assists and a season-high-tying six steals in 44 minutes. It was his fourth game with six thefts this season.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Nowitzki pulled down 11 first-half rebounds against the Bucks on Tuesday. It was tied for the second-most rebounds he’s recorded in the first half of a game in his career (he had 11 in the first half on two other occasions, and recorded 12 in the first half twice). The most rebounds Nowitzki recorded in any half in his career was 13 in the second half (twice).

- Elton Brand recorded his seventh double-double of the season (403rd career) with 12 points (6-8 FGs) and a season-high 14 rebounds (7 OR) in 25 minutes off the bench. His previous high rebounding game was 13 on two occasions. Brand is averaging 14.0 points and 8.5 rebounds over his last four games. He is shooting 57.1 percent (24-of-42) from the field in that span.

- Dallas went 1-of-17 from 3-point range.

Here is the quoteboard for the Mavericks’ loss to the Lakers.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 90, Milwaukee Bucks 95

Posted by Kirk Henderson on February 26, 2013 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Buck

Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • It boggles the mind that the Dallas Mavericks managed to lose a game where Dirk Nowitzki and Elton Brand grabbed a combined 34 rebounds and scored 33 points. That the Mavs gave the ball away 20 times is a big reason, including 13 from the four primary Dallas ball handlers of Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Vince Carter, and Mike James. Sloppy play when every game matters isn’t going to cut it.
  • The key possession started with 2:44 in the fourth and the game tied at 88. It lasted a full minute. Dallas managed to grab three offensive rebounds before Larry Sanders stole it from Dirk. Re-watching the possession, Dirk was camped at the three point with no one near him for 20 seconds and his teammates had no idea. I don’t understand how this continues to happen. He’s the best player on the team. Look for him on every possession.
  • Darren Collison (12 points, eight assists) has had a tough time shooting the ball since returning from the All Star break, shooting 14 for 44 from the field. Though his shooting percentages for the year look great, he’s had a variety of peaks and valleys and it’s unfortunate that a low point is coming at a time for Dallas when they need him shooting well. He managed to only hit a third of his 15 shots against the Bucks but most were good looks that simply didn’t fall. I wonder how much his odd looking shot mechanics have to do with the streaky quality of his shooting?
  • Vince Carter and Mike James managing to go 0 for 12 from the field with five turnovers really hurt the Dallas ability to maintain any sort of lead. Most of Carter’s shots were good looks, the sort he makes with regularity. James, on the other hand, keeps firing with no regard for the fact that he’s shooting a hair under 31% for the season. But he has to keep playing for some reason unknown to anyone outside of the Dallas coaching staff.
  • That Dallas wasted throwback performances from two power forwards drafted in the last millennium is infuriating. Dirk looks better and better, boxing out, crashing the boards, and finally putting the ball on the floor and playing with a bit of swagger (thought his two turnovers in the final three minutes really hurt the Mavs). His spinning fade looks particularly good, even if it hasn’t fallen yet. The sort of leg strength and confidence required to even take that shot is impressive. Brand, on the other hand, keeps surprising all Maverick observers. Of his 14 rebounds, seven were offensive, including a few in traffic where the Bucks surrounding him had better angles on the ball. I hope Dallas finds a way to keep him in the off season, but he’s  proven his worth as a fantastic back up power forward/center.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.

 

 

Quoteboard: Los Angeles Lakers 103, Dallas Mavericks 99

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 24, 2013 under Interviews | 2 Comments to Read

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It was a closely contested game, but the Los Angeles Lakers were able to prevail over the Dallas Mavericks with a 103-99 victory on Sunday afternoon. Kobe Bryant tallied a game-high 38 points (13-21 FGs, 4-5 3FGs, 8-10 FTs), including 14 in the fourth quarter, to go along with 12 rebounds and a game-high seven assists in 38 minutes. Kobe went a perfect 5-5 from the field in the fourth quarter. Bryant, who scored 40 points in his previous game vs. Portland, is averaging 39.0 points on 28-of-44 (.636) shooting over his last two games.

In comparison, Dirk Nowitzki stepped up to the challenge with his best game of the season. Dirk recorded his first double-double of the season (370th career) with a season-high 30 points (11-19 FGs, 4-4 3FGs, 4-5 FTs) and a season-best 13 rebounds in 39 minutes against the Lakers on Sunday. His previous high scoring game this year was 26 points at Portland Jan. 29, and his previous high rebounding total was 9 on three occasions. It was his 224th career 30-point game, first since Apr. 18, 2012, 35 vs. Houston. It was also his 107th career 30-point, 10-rebound game. Nowitzki has shot 21-of-36 (.583) from the field over his last two games and is averaging 27.5 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game in that span.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Dirk Nowitzki recorded 16 points and eight rebounds in 18 first-half minutes for Dallas. Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles with 16 points, five rebounds and six assists in 17 first-half minutes. The score was knotted at 54 at the half.

- The Mavericks outshot the Lakers 51.3 percent (20-of-39) to 41.5 percent (17-of-41) from the field in the first half. But Los Angeles went 8-of-16 (.500) from deep in the first half (compared to Dallas’ 3-of-6 clip) and the score was tied at 54 at the break.

- The Lakers were winless this season on the front end of road/road back-to-backs (0-6) before the victory over the Mavericks.

- The Lakers came in having the fifth-worst scoring bench in the league at 14.6 points per game. Their bench had 29 points against Dallas.

Here is the quoteboard for the Mavericks’ loss to the Lakers.

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Quoteboard: Dallas 111, Orlando 96

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 21, 2013 under Interviews | 2 Comments to Read

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Dallas started the “second half” of the season on a good note as they recorded a 111-96 victory over the Orlando Magic. The Magic now are a whopping 3-26 since Dec. 20. The game was defined by one play. The Mavericks double digit lead in the first half quickly evaporated and they found themselves trailing by six points in the third quarter. Jameer Nelson stole the ball away from O.J. Mayo. Nelson passed the ball to J.J. Redick for a breakaway layup. Mayo hustled down the court and was able to pin the ball against the rim. He recovered the ball and delivered the high heat on a lob pass to Vince Carter for the slam dunk. The play triggered a 13-0 run. Dallas closed the game on a 21-8 run en route to the victory.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Vince Carter went 4-of-9 from beyond the arc against the Magic on Wednesday and recorded 14 points and a season-high eight assists in 26 minutes off the bench. It was his 10th game with four-plus 3-pointers this season. Carter had only one game with four-plus treys all of last year (5-7, at Phoenix 1/30/12). He has shot 14-of-23 (.609) from deep over his last three games. Carter has also hit at least one 3-pointer in each of his last 12 games. It’s tied for his longest such streak this season (he made at least one trey in 12 straight games from Nov. 17 through Dec. 12). Prior to this season, the last time Carter made at least one triple in 12 straight games was from Dec. 10, 2010 through Jan. 22, 2012, when they hit at least one 3-pointer in 16 consecutive games.

- Elton Brand went 5-for-6 from the field and 5-for-5 from the line before intermission and led all players with 15 points in 15 first-half minutes. It was the most points he scored in any half this season (previous high: 14 points in the first half vs. Minnesota Jan. 14). Brand finished with 17 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes off the bench. The Mavericks improved to 3-1 this season when he scores 17-plus points in a game.

- Shawn Marion (17), Elton Brand (17), Vince Carter (14), O.J. Mayo (13), Dirk Nowitzki (12) and Mike James (season-high 12) all scored in double figures for Dallas in the win. The Mavericks improved to 11-5 this season when they have at least six players in double figures.

- The Mavericks recorded only nine turnovers against Orlando on Wednesday. The Mavericks have now recorded 12-or-fewer turnovers in each of their last five games.

- The 42 first-quarter points were the most by the Mavericks in any quarter this season (previous high: 40 points in second quarter vs. Washington Nov. 14). Prior to Wednesday’s game, the most points Dallas scored an opening quarter this year was 39 at Houston Dec. 8 (outscored Houston 39-24 in the first quarter). The Mavericks have now scored 30-plus points in the first quarter in three of their last four games.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ victory over Orlando.

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Microeconomics

Posted by Ian Levy on February 18, 2013 under Commentary, Roster Moves | Read the First Comment

A Pocket Full of Change

On Friday, at Hickory-High, Ming Wang put together a really interesting piece sharing an interesting new strategy for examining the tradeoff between production and cost for the contracts of NBA players. Here’s the rationale and method in his own words:

A few weeks ago, Kevin Pelton of ESPN looked at the best contracts in the NBA by multiplying a player’s WARP (wins above replacement level) by the average amount that teams pay for each WARP. I’d like to approach this same problem from a different angle: namely, how much value are teams getting out of the salaries they pay their players? Instead of looking at WARP, I’ll focus on win shares, another metric of player value. While Pelton’s methodology assumes that the overall NBA salary market is priced correctly (therefore attaching a value to each WARP a team pays for), my method makes no assumptions about overall pricing accuracy and instead seeks to evaluate relative player salary and performance.

At a basic level, my goal is to quantitatively evaluate the best and worst contracts in the NBA. To do so, I construct a simple metric that I call the “value ratio.” This is defined as: (Player Salary/Median Salary)/(Player Win Share/Median Win Share). In effect, I am comparing the amount over (or under) which a player is being paid vs. the median NBA player with that player’s production over (or under) that of a median player. Comparing salaries and win shares with median values serves as a way of normalizing these metrics and making them more readily comparable to each other. A simple way to think about this metric is the following: if the ratio is less than 1, the player is undervalued; if the ratio is greater than one, the player is overvalued; if the ratio equals one, the player is properly valued. In short, the most valuable players will be those with the smallest value ratios.

To get a more full picture of player production, Wang used a three-year average of a player’s Win Shares. To compensate for the fact that salary is not consistent in every year of a contract he averaged the per year salary commitments of this year and each remaining year on a player’s contract. There are several holes in his method, which he acknowledges at the end of his post, but if you know the context for specific players and specific teams, the stories told by his numbers become much richer.

Several Mavericks showed up in different places in Wang’s results. With a value ratio of 0.131, Elton Brand’s contract provided the 7th greatest value of any player who has played at least 500 minutes this season. At a value ratio of 0.259, Darren Collison’s contract provided the 10th most value of any player who had played at least 1,150 minutes this season. Driven by curiosity, I pulled together his results for all of the Mavericks to see how the team’s current crop of contracts rated in value.

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Asset Management

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 14, 2013 under Commentary | 5 Comments to Read

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The trade deadline is always an interesting time for the Dallas Mavericks. Mark Cuban has always said two things when it comes to that time of the year: the team will always be opportunistic and don’t believe what you hear or read when it comes to them. The team is at a crossroads. The chances of making the playoffs are slim and the team has to do what they can to ensure they don’t waste any more time off of Dirk Nowitzki’s career. The deadline on the 21st is one way they can help build for the futre. How do the Mavericks assess things as the trade deadline approaches? Let’s look at the assets and what could be out there.

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Thermodynamics: Week 16

Posted by Travis Wimberly on under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Fire Ice

Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

Another week of the Mavs’ season is in the books, and it’s yet another 2-1, not-really-sure-how-I’m-supposed-to-feel week. To be sure, the Mavs played very well for much of the week. They beat a quality Golden State team handily, and they put away a miserable Sacramento team for the third time this season (boy, when you’re struggling for wins, it sure is nice to play the Kings repeatedly).

On the other hand, the Mavs’ game with the Hawks was a big step backward. They played pretty much the entire game uphill, and when they finally had a chance to close it out, they (read: OJ Mayo) repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. The end result: what easily could have been an excellent 3-0 week instead was yet another wasted opportunity to gain serious ground in the standings.

Week 16 (Warriors, Hawks, Kings)

FIRE

1) Dirk’s Moves

Did you see it? If my eyes don’t deceive me, Dirk started to look a lot more like Dirk this week. His weekly numbers were fairly strong overall: 15.3 points per game, 17-of-35 (49%) cumulative shooting, and seven rebounds per game. But what really caught my attention was how he moved very purposefully, both on and off the ball, particularly in the Mavs’ latter two games. Last night against Sacramento, Dirk looked like the superstar of old. He created shots for himself; he got to his spots and broke down the defense; he created open looks for his teammates (six assists). It’s been so long since Dirk’s been physically capable of playing that way that I’d almost forgotten what it looked like. Almost. The Mavs may be in too deep a hole to salvage this season, but even if so, Dirk’s viability as an impact player and offensive creator are an integral part of whatever the Mavs’ future plans may be.

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Quoteboard: Atlanta Hawks 105, Dallas Mavericks 101

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 12, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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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.

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