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3 things as the Dallas Mavericks come back to beat the Atlanta Hawks, 118-117

A thrilling fourth quarter gives Dallas a great clutch win.

Atlanta Hawks v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 118-117, to push their record to 12-14. Luka Doncic recorded a 28-10-10 triple double to lead all Mavericks in scoring. Trae Young scored 25 points, but John Collins led his team with 33 of his own.

Both sides traded buckets throughout the first quarter, even though the Mavericks were unable to find their rhythm from three. The Hawks took a six point lead midway through the period, but the Mavericks were able to close the gap and finish the quarter up 33-32.

The offense slowed to start the second for both teams, and after several empty possessions for the Mavericks, the Hawks were up 42-39 midway through the third. The Mavericks stayed ice cold from three, and trailed 62-52 after two.

The Mavericks offense looked a bit crisper to open the second half, as Doncic exploited switches onto the smaller Young to set up Willie Cauley-Stein for some finishes at the rim. After the first timeout, the Mavericks had cut their deficit to only seven, but after a Jalen Brunson buzzer beater they led 90-81 at the end of the third.

Tim Hardaway Jr. woke up after scoring three points in the first half to go on an 7-0 personal run to bring the Hawks lead to only two. Hardaway stayed on fire, and after a Brunson three, the Hawks were forced to take a timeout down 107-101. We proceeded to see a thrilling clutch five minutes, and the Mavericks hung on to win after Gallinari missed a game-winning jump shot at the buzzer.

A much needed, feel good, come back, clutch time win

The Mavericks overcame their largest deficit of this season in a win, coming back from 13 down with five minutes remaining in the third. Their previous mark was 12 in the overtime Nuggets win on Jan. 7, but tonight’s win was especially unique because of the unexpected turn in energy and composure that the Mavericks displayed. Too often, whenever Dallas has faced a double-digit deficit, the body language would become ugly and the effort would crater.

Bench duo Hardaway and Brunson lit up the fourth quarter and made sure such a thing did not occur. THJ was exceptional, scoring 13 points in six minutes to tie the game, including an individual 7-0 run. Brunson, who scored 11 of his own in the quarter, might be the second most reliable Maverick at this point in the season. His “shoot first, shoot second, shoot always” approach has made him decisive and aggressive. Bonus: he even made a great pass to wide open Dorian Finney-Smith, who hit a corner three with 1:18 left in the game.

The three-point shooting seesawed between halves again

At least this time it happened in the right direction. The Mavericks shot a horrendous 4-of-19, good for 21%, from distance in the first half. When Porzingis, Hardaway, Brunson, and Doncic each take multiple attempts and make a combined ONE, it can be (and was) very painful to watch. The shots were mostly of good quality, reinforcing the season-long gripe of role players being unable to hit open attempts.

In the second half, fortune finally favored the Mavericks, who hit 10-of-16 three’s for a remarkable 62.5%. Every player that shot a three in the period hit at least half their attempts, including Hardaway who want 3-for-3 from distance in the fourth.

This just goes to show how volatile and random a three-point based offense like the Mavericks’ can be when looking at small sample sizes. It’s why the career-high shooting seasons for THJ, Finney-Smith, and others last season were so unexpected. It’s also why the offense has looked worse this year as some of those players have reverted to the mean. Hopefully, the full-strength roster can keep the rhythm up and consistently hit these shots.

The Mavericks decided to outscore the Hawks rather than stop them

The top five defense that started the season has been a thing of the distant past, with the Mavericks putting up below average defensive numbers for the last 15 games. Today was no different, as the Hawks scored 121.8 points per 100 possessions tonight. They exploited a variety of matchups using Trae Young’s quickness to get other players good shots. The only instance that comes to mind where the Mavericks one-on-one defense on Young was enough was Josh Richardson’s contest on a Young baseline jumper to end the first half.

In the two teams’ previous match up, the Mavericks attempted to trap Young with a primary defender such as Richardson and a helper such as Kleber. The strategy was not as effective tonight, as Young easily found open rollers to the rim and racked up 15 assists. Maxi Kleber in particular really struggled tonight as he works back from COVID.

The New Orleans Pelicans visit the Mavericks on Friday for another 6:30 p.m CT game. It can be viewed on ESPN or NBA League Pass.

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.