The Atlanta Hawks came into the American Airlines Center likely with a bit of a somber mood. Their front office officially completed the move to send three point specialist Kyle Korver over to the mighty Cleveland Cavaliers. Whatever sadness they might have been feeling off the court, it definitely didn’t show on it.
The Hawks, now winners of six straight, defeated the Mavs 97-82 on Saturday night.
J.J. Barea was back on the court for Dallas. In his first game back, he managed seven points and seven assists in just 17 minutes off the bench. Barea’s bucket with 9:37 left in the 4th got Dallas back within two at 69-67, but it was all down hill from there.
Atlanta would go on a 10-0 run after the Mavs got it down to 2 and ultimately managed to outscore Dallas 28-15 after Barea’s score as the Mavs simply didn’t have it down the stretch.
Rick Carlisle essentially waved the white flag with about three minutes left in the game when his team was down 90-79. Dallas played the final 2:38 with Justin Anderson and Nico Brussino trying to lead the comeback charge.
Starting Lineup Continues to Struggle
It was a night where Carlisle decided to go with the starting lineup the organization intended to use going into the season: Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut. It still sounds great on paper, and it looked okay in the first quarter. But as the game wore on, we saw why that lineup (most notably Dirk and Bogut) simply isn’t a lineup that shouldn’t play together often.
The only player in the starting five to finish with a positive +/- rating was Nowitzki with a +3. The other four starters had an average of about -20. For those of you unfamiliar with the +/- stat, that essentially means the Mavs were outscored by 20 when the likes of Barnes, Bogut, Williams and Matthews were on the court.
It’s a disheartening reality for Coach Carlisle and the front office. Only time will tell if this lineup will get many more chances to play together. Atlanta likely opened the trade floodgates with their move of Korver and potential dangling of All-Star Paul Millsap. Dallas should begin to look to make some moves of its own with Saturday’s loss dropping them to 11-26 on the year. Insanely, they’re still only 4.5 games back of that terrible 8th and final playoff spot in the west. The Portland Trail Blazers currently hold it with a 16-22 record.
Up next, the Mavs will head up north to face the team tied with them for the worst record in the Western Conference: the Minnesota Timberwolves. The T-wolves have all the young talent in the world, but simply haven’t been able to take that next step this season. This will be the first time the two teams have met this season, but it will be the first of two meeting in just seven days as Minnesota will travel to Dallas for a matinee match on Sunday, January 15th. Originally scheduled for 3 PM, that game was moved up to a 1 PM tipoff to minimize the overlap with the Dallas Cowboys home playoff game scheduled for 3:40 that day.
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