Dallas got on the board with a Dennis Smith Jr. alley oop to Maxi Kleber. The Wurzberg rookie went on to score the Mavericks first six points before Harrison Barnes joined the party with a midrange jumper. The Hawks and Mavericks traded blows during the quarter in what was a back and forth affair where both teams were knotted at 25 after one. The Hawks scored 20 of their 25 points in the paint and shot 58 percent from the field. Kleber paced the Mavericks with 8 points displaying his athleticism connecting on multiple alley oops.
The second quarter was much of the same as neither team could gain much separation. However, the highlight of the second quarter was Dwight Powell scoring eight straight for the Mavericks as they pushed to a game-best five point lead. Barnes closed the quarter with an and-one to keep the Mavs lead at five and gave him a team-high nine points through two quarters as Dallas took a 53-48 lead into the half.
Third quarter woes plagued the Mavericks as the Hawks raced out of the half on a 14-4 run with Dennis Schroeder scoring seven of those points. The German native stayed hot helping the Hawks push their lead to as many as 10. But on the heels of Barnes, Barea and Dirk, the Mavs clawed their way back. Barnes pumped in seven on the quarter and Dallas went on an 18-9 run over the final few minutes to take a 80-79 lead into the fourth quarter.
The final frame went down no differently. Neither team could separate as Schroeder continued to fill it up and Barnes quietly went over 20 points for the fourth straight game. But ultimately, Schroeder proved to be too much as the Mavs had no answer for him on a career night. Barnes led Dallas with 22 points, and Dirk pumped in 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished four assists. It was another crunch time failure for the Mavericks as they lost their 14th game on the road. Dallas falls to 9-25 on the season.
J.J. Barea at it again
In what seems like a regular occurrence, Barea played a fantastic game for the Mavericks. He scored 15 points and tallied 12 assists. In the third quarter, when Atlanta seemed to be pulling away, Barea made shots and set up teammates to weather the storm and ultimately help the Mavericks take a lead into the fourth quarter. And he kept it up in the fourth quarter as the Mavs did everything they could to maintain a lead in the final frame. Barea notched his third double double of the season while playing smart, efficient and dependable basketball.
The Mavericks have a Dennis Schroeder problem
The Hawks have the far superior Dennis, and it showed tonight. After torching the Mavericks for 28 points and seven assists on opening night, Schroeder continued to be a thorn in the Mavericks’ side scoring a career high 33 points and dishing seven assists. The third quarter was the Schroeder show as he seemed to score at will and continuously put teammates in positions to score. Fortunately for the Mavs and unfortunately for Schroeder, these two teams won’t see each other again this season.
What is Rick Carlisle doing?
Let me start by reiterating J.J. Barea was probably the best Maverick on the floor tonight, but that is no excuse for what went down the final two minutes of this game. For reference, the Hawks and Mavs are the two worst teams in the NBA record wise. So, Carlisle opting for Barea for over Smith Jr. in the last two minutes of a tight game is mind blowing. Will this game matter by season’s end? No. Will this game matter in five years when Smith Jr. is (hopefully) running the show and Barea is enjoying retirement on the beaches of Puerto Rico. Absolutely not. The Mavs are sitting on nine wins. The season is lost. Why is the only piece worth building with on the bench? Does he not need to learn how to close out games? Does he not need experience in getting the team in the best set when the margin for error is razor thin? Sure, if the Mavs are taking a playoff team to the wire and Carlisle wants a win to boost morale, I can live with that, maybe. But it’s the Atlanta freaking Hawks. Play the only player on the roster who actually has a shot at being someone in a few seasons, Rick.
So the Mavericks find another way to lose a close game. At least the vets got to finish it out though.
Merry Christmas, everyone.