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Mavs drop 2nd straight game at home, lose to Hawks 82-97

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NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, I don’t know. At least it’s not the Suns again, am I right? Look, losing isn’t fun. It’s becoming more and more clear that this team just doesn’t have what it takes to make a playoff push. They’re running out of time, and really needed to win a bunch of these January games in what was supposed to be a few weeks of easier scheduling.

But basketball is life, and there are still a lot of interesting things to discuss. Starting with some happy news.

Jose Juan Barea, tiny guard of my heart

Welcome back.

J.J. Barea is the lynchpin of this team. It’s heart and soul. It’s leader. Without him, they lose a competitive game at home to one of the worst teams in the NBA. With him, they lose a less competitive game at home to a middle of the pack Eastern Conference team.....

Man, this argument would’ve been much more solid if the Mavs had won tonight.

Fine fine, I’m blowing it out of proportion, but I know everyone here is happy to see J.J. back. He was really good in limited minutes, with 7 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. I’m not exactly sure how he got 4 rebounds, but that’s just more evidence that he is a great basketball player, haters be damned.

I was most impressed with the chemistry he had with Dwight Powell. That tandem brought so much energy off the bench. I love them each individually, but tonight, I loved them even more together.

I have some worries about Harrison Barnes

The guy is the Mavs’ best scorer, and it isn’t close. He had 19 points through 3 quarters, and at times it felt like he was the only one doing anything on offense. Because he was, literally—there was a lengthy stretch in the third where he was the only Mav who scored.

But then we get to the fourth, and the Mavs offense goes cold. The Hawks start growing their lead. Barnes is on the floor, but I find myself confused as to actually where. He scored 19 in the first 3 quarters, then put up exactly 2 more in the 4th. This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed this sort of 2nd half disappearing act by the Mavs’ leading scorer.

Harrison Barnes has grown a lot in Dallas already, but it is seriously worrisome if this starts to become a pattern. A team whose top scorer regularly disappears in the fourth is a team that loses more than it wins. Probably.

What’s up with D-Will?

Deron was just so very sloppy tonight. He led the team with 4 turnovers, and his teammates were constantly working to corral his careless attempts at flashy passes. Both his playmaking and scoring decisions felt overly aggressive. He ended the game having shot 25% on 12 shots.

Hopefully, this was just a bad game. D-Will’s been pretty solid lately, and his assist numbers have been great. But man, tonight was just a really rough performance.

Some miscellaneous thoughts

  • Andrew Bogut was back in the starting lineup, ostensibly so that Dirk didn’t have to try to guard Dwight Howard. Interestingly, when Carlisle had Bogut, Dirk, and Barnes in the game versus Howard and Millsap, Barnes guarded Millsap every time. Dirk then covered the Hawks least threatening shooter, often Thabo Sefolosha. And it worked pretty damn well!
  • Dorian Finney-Smith didn’t start this game, but he had the most points off of the bench. As usual he looked the part of unremarkable competent role player with few stats, but he did toss 3 assists tonight.
  • Wesley Matthews continues to struggle a bit offensively, but he did shoot 43% from 3 tonight.
  • Dwight Powell: 8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and multiple dunks. Energy everywhere—11/10 would recommend.