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4 observations following hard fought Dallas Mavericks victory over the Atlanta Hawks, 114-107

A Rick Carlisle ejection sparks the Mavericks in the victory

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks won their eleventh straight home game Wednesday evening, this time against the Atlanta Hawks, 114-107. The rookie duel between traded players lived up to the hype with Luka Doncic scoring 24 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out six assists in victory, while Trae Young scored 24 of his own and handed out 10 assists. Harrison Barnes led all Mavericks with 25 points.

Dallas opened the game against Atlanta looking great on offense, with Luka Doncic running the offense for the third straight game. Harrison Barnes connected on three threes in the frame and it seemed like the Mavericks might build up a big lead. Kent Bazemore settled Atlanta and the relentlessness from John Collins kept the game close. Past J.J. Barea, the Maverick bench unit looked discombobulated and they were unable to extend the lead. Dallas took a 28-26 point lead into the second.

The second quarter was a back and forth affair, with both teams taking the lead, losing the lead, and tying it multiple times. Trae Young came alive early, hitting two threes, and that opened the offense for Atlanta. A mishmash unit of starters and bench players for Dallas kept things close for much of the quarter. Collins continued to wreak havoc on the offensive boards, grabbing six total in the half, which allowed Atlanta to keep the Mavericks off kilter. The Mavericks trailed Atlanta, 52-51 at the half.

The back and forth continued for much of the third quarter. Despite the Dallas offense clicking, the Hawks were knocking down shots and getting in the lane with ease. By the eight minute mark, Atlanta’s lead grew to four points when Rick Carlisle was called for a double technical and ejected, protesting a series of no-calls by the referee. Though the Hawks hit the technical free throws, their six point lead would be the largest of the night. The Mavericks responded to the ejection well, eventually retaking the lead and clamping down on defense to end the period up 81-78.

Dallas continued to force the action in the fourth quarter and Atlanta lost their offense just long enough for the Mavericks to build a double digit lead four minutes into the quarter. The momentum shifted just enough in the favor of Dallas and Atlanta didn’t have enough time to make it a game. A spirited comeback effort in the final two minutes lead to an inflated scoring total and Dallas won it’s 11th straight home victory, 114-107.

Some thoughts:

Shoot more threes, Harrison

Any time a guy starts off 3-3 from deep in the first quarter, you want him to keep firing. In fact, Barnes really hit another three that quarter that was waived off due to an offensive foul by DeAndre Jordan. He shot just four more the rest of the game, hitting two. There were a lot of dribble drives by Barnes a number of which he converted or got to the line. Still though, with how pretty hit shot looked tonight, it would be great to see average number of attempts continue to climb.

Dallas lost the rebounding front

As of this writing I’m not sure what the final margins were in terms of second chance points and points in the paint, but it’s safe to say the Mavericks lost both those statistical battles. The Hawks, mainly John Collins, owned Dallas inside and it very nearly cost them the game. Atlanta had 16 offensive rebounds compared to just four for Dallas and John Collins had 9 all by himself. The Mavericks may have real problems when playing teams which play two traditional big men (like the Pelicans) or at least teams that have two outstanding rebounding big men.

Harrison Barnes, Wesley Matthews, and Dorian Finney-Smith all play very hard defense on switches, but Dallas is ultimately fighting a losing battle against such a relentless big. It’s good they don’t see Atlanta again this year.

The Mavericks dominated the free throw margin

It’s surprising that coach Rick Carlisle was tossed for arguing for more foul calls, considering the Mavericks ended the game with a truly wild free throw disparity, shooting 43 to the Hawks’ 14 attempts. Some of that is inflated by the final few minutes when the game was mostly decided, but the Mavericks were shooting free throws at all points of the game. Prior to the contest the Mavericks were sixth in the league in free throws attempted per game and this match up may vault them into the top five.

What’s incredible about this contest was just how many more Dallas could have shot, were the referees to give both Harrison Barnes and Luka Doncic a few more obvious calls they chose to let go. But if Dallas is going to get beat on second chance points and paint points, they have to make up baskets somehow and against Atlanta it was on the line.

Luka’s shot doesn’t seem right

This is a ridiculous comment if you watched the game and saw the pair of threes he hit and the wild floater go down just before halftime (where Doncic also got fouled).

Yet he missed two wide, wide open looks and his mid-range and floater game just aren’t there right now. The last game Doncic shot above 43% was against the Rockets on November 28th. The next game against the Lakers he took a hard charge from Lebron, couldn’t buy a bucket (shot just 2 of 13), missed the next game with a reported hip issue, and hasn’t shot the ball well since. In fact, in December he’s shooting 34% from the field overall.

I’m not a doctor, but I have had a spinal fusion and the ensuing problems I’ve had with my lower back, hips, quad muscles, and feet have taught me that a small imbalance can cause some truly strange problems in how you walk or run or even sit. So it’s easy to read into how it would affect shooting.

Then Doncic has a stretch like he did against the Rockets the other night and he hits two bananas shots tonight. Maybe I’m wildly wrong and that would be preferable. It just wouldn’t shock me if we hear by February that he struggled through some hip issues in December.