The Atlanta Hawks made a visit to the AAC for a friendly Friday night matchup. Both teams rummaged through the game at a preseason pace with a comedy of errors in the first quarter, but the Mavericks faltered in the end falling to the Hawks 91-84. The game wasn't televised, but Dirk Nowitzki made his debut and he was the only reason this game held any significance.
Justin Anderson continues to improve
Justin Anderson played his best game of the preseason on both sides of the ball. Anderson looked more like the player who lit up Vegas summer league with his athleticism and outside stroke. He was tasked with tracking Kyle Korver around the court for the majority of the first half and fared very well. Rookies tend to go lost in defensive schemes, and Anderson has certainly done his fair share of that throughout the preseason, but against the Hawks he was in tune he navigated the defensive end of the court like a veteran.
Anderson found his jumper in the first half when he played with the rotation players. He took smart shots and didn't hesitate when an opportunity presented itself. However, Anderson's shot selection went haywire in the second half when he played with the reserves. The rookie was put in a tough position, but Rick Carlisle views the extended playing time as learning opportunity. "The last two games he's been stuck in a very difficult position as a point guard. He's getting tired and he's making some tired judgement plays. It's an unbelievably great learning experience for him," said Rick Carlisle after the game. It's safe to say that he won't be playing any point guard during the regular season, but this experience could prove valuable.
The Big German debuts
The Big German made his debut by playing 18 minutes in the first half and throwing up six points on 2-6 shooting. Dirk moved about as well as you would hope a 37-year old mummy would. He snagged seven rebounds and looked frisky on the defensive end. On the offensive end, Dirk was content with setting a few screens, moving the ball and hoisting a few threes. Even though he wasn't fully locked in, it was still very evident that he was far and away the most talented Maverick on the court.
The young guys get their shot
The Mavericks B-squad competed admirably against Atlanta's starters in the third quarter. Atlanta played all of their rotation players besides Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap and a Mavericks bunch consisting of John Jenkins, Justin Anderson, Jamili Wilson, Maurice Ndour and Salah Mejri were able to play them to a draw for the majority of the second half It's only preseason, but it's great to see guys at the end of the rotation compete at a high level.
Once again, John Jenkins was the best player on the court for the Mavericks. His ball handling and shooting acumen are starting to look less and less like a mirage. Jenkins registered 16 points on 6-9 shooting. The former first round pick is going to force Rick Carlisle's hand in the regular season. In fact, Jenkins wasn't relegated to mop duty in the fourth quarter even though the Mavericks needed a point guard on the floor in the worst way.
Salah Mejri got his first extended look on the floor. He showed some anticipation skills defensive end by blocking a few shots and mixing it up on the boards, but Mejiri is still a work in progress on the offensive end. He scored only two points on 1-6 shooting including a pretty serious airball. However, Mejri isn't phased by the airball or his growing pains on offense. "I tried to shoot it. I thought I was 15 feet away, but I was 18 feet away," Mejri said after the game. He's dealing with a contusion on his right wrist that's affecting his shooting stroke right now. With Samuel Dalembert seeing minimal minutes, Mejri will have the opportunity to show his worth.