Do you like offense?
Do missed shots make you angry?
Do you hear phrases like "50 points in the paint" and think "well, what did they do in the second half?"
If any of the above is true, you may have really enjoyed this game!
The Dallas Mavericks, on the second night of another back-to-back, and on the road against a team ranked 10th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, went absolutely bonkers on offense, lighting up the Atlanta Hawks to the tune of 127 points on 57% shooting. Dirk Nowitzki had his second straight game of highly efficient scoring, having now put up 45 points on just 21 shots the last two games. Of course, tonight, just about everyone was on fire( #exceptjaecrowder).
Dallas would make its first shot of the night, on a Mike James three, and the three point shot would be a very large part of the attack all night long, as the crisp ball movement stretched the Atlanta defense out and punished them on slow rotations. After a couple of Chris Kaman baskets(who, as is always the case, fired early and often to set the tone), and a Dirk jumper, O.J. Mayo hit a three to put Dallas ahead 14-13 and become the fifth and final member of the starting lineup to register in the scoring column. At the five minute mark, the second units would check in, and what was a two possession game would start to build into something more. Dallas would score 10 points in the final minute and 20 seconds, including some midrange action from Elton Brand and Brandan Wright, and a pair of threes from Darren Collison and Vince Carter. Dallas would lead 34-25 after one.
In the second, Collison would take over. After a circus shot(seriously, he makes one of these seemingly every game) three-point play, Collison went nuts, scoring 10 points in a row at one point and 13 overall in the first half of the second period, the last basket forcing an Atlanta timeout. All that scoring was much too flashy, of course, and resulted in his being substituted out in favor of Mike James. Dirk Nowitzki would then pick up where Collison left off, scoring five in a row, and the lead had suddenly ballooned to 19 at 58-39.
Mike James would do his best to help Atlanta back into the game, with bad passes on consecutive possessions, leading to a pair of Atlanta steals and the lead shrinking to 11. Collison would re-enter, and Dallas would finish the quarter strong with 10 points in the final two minutes, and the Mavs would enter the locker room up 68-55 shooting a volcanic 63% from the field.
Just as he did the first half, Mike James started the second half with a three, and after Chris Kaman tip in on the wrong basket(credited to Al Horford), Dirk Nowitzki would hit another three, as Dallas continued to fire without hesitation and score without mercy. Atlanta did their best to keep up, attacking the interior defense of Dallas with dribble penetration and a nice high-low passing game from Josh Smith and Al Horford, but it had to be a bit deflating to see the Mavericks make seemingly everything they hurled up at the rim.
The lead hovered around 18 for the middle section of the third, as Dallas hit 90 points with nearly five minutes remaining in the quarter. The Hawks then made a push, once again cutting the lead to 11 by hitting their free throws, but Dallas had an answer. As Atlanta seemed to press harder on the perimeter to take away the Dallas three point shot, the Mavs responded by pounding the home team on pick and rolls and strong interior passing, resulting in a slew of points in the paint for the typically perimeter-oriented Dallas squad. Despite Atlanta's best quarter, the differential did not waver, and the score read 98-85 going into the final frame.
Unlike last night, Dirk Nowitzki would actually attempt a shot in the fourth quarter this time, scoring the first five points for Dallas. Darren Collison would score the next five, and Dallas looked to provide the killing blow early. A Vince Carter three would make the lead 21, the largest of the night, and coach Larry Drew would throw in the towel early, subbing out his starters with over five minutes left and the score 117-99. The garbage time gang would provide a few nice hustle plays, including a Chris Wright drawn charge and a block from Bernard James. Anthony Morrow would also score four of his eight points in what was easily the most playing time he's received as a Maverick.
Not a whole lot of analysis to give here: this was just Dallas' night. Every little run Atlanta had, Dallas had a counter, and they had more than a few prayer shots answered(in addition to the Collison and-one, O.J. Mayo hit a buzzer-beating three from at least 30 feet in the third). They were 12-17 at one point from three, and finished 13-22, at just under 60%. Of course, Jae Crowder went 0-4 from deep, so if you take him out, the team shot 13-18.
Thanks to all that hot shooting, Dallas won the rebound game, 39-31. My favorite stat of the night? 33 assists, even though no player registered more than five dimes, individually. Think about that for a second. Basically, what it means is that everyone was sharing the ball really well, and no one guy was trying to play hero. This is the kind of stat that shows me how little having a "pass-first point guard" really matters. You need five guys that can pass, not one.
Of course, the flip side of this is that Dallas gave up 113 points on 56% shooting on the other end, including 50 points in the paint. The Hawks had eight guys reach double figures in scoring, but nobody got to 20. Josh Smith, who torched Dallas from outside in the last meeting, went 0-4 from deep tonight.
The Mavs now head back to Dallas, to host the New Brooksey Nets, and Darren Willyums. Yay!
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