Initial Reaction: Mavericks 102, Hawks 91

Quick Thought: 14-1 start of the fourth quarter, and the 13 point final quarter overall wasn't the result of iso-anything. 

Summary: 

This was a back and forth game that neither team dominated. The Mavericks worked the pick and roll relentlessly to exploit Mike Bibby, causing both his own foul trouble and limited playing time and the dusting off of Jeff Teague for 13 minutes.

The Hawks had a solid strategy of winding Joe Johnson up against the many smaller guards the Mavericks play and let him go, a strategy which saw Joe start 8-10 and pile up some tremendous points in the paint.

Beyond the pick/roll, the Mavericks deployed the "let's see if Dirk's hot tonight" approach as the Dallas all-timer is recovering from his injury. The verdict: Yup, he was. 8/11, 2/3. 19 points...which a bunch coming with Al Horford or Josh Smith challenging with extreme prejudice.

The Hawks got burned by a late three pointer in the third quarter, but left it with the upper hand, though it was by a single point. Still, there was nothing to suggest that the Hawks were going to suddenly and definitively collapse in the final quarter, though the team has recently given pause to any confidence regarding the team's execution during crunch time.

Suddenly, within the first four minutes of that quarter, the Mavericks blitzed the Hawks so enthusiastically and completely, that the game was essentially decided right then and there.

The Mavericks scored 14 points to a single Hawks mark in the scoring column in those 4 minutes. A sequence so totally one-sided, it flattened the Hawks for good.

The lineups for each team?

Well, the Mavericks went with:

Dirk Nowitzki (33 minutes for the game)

Jason Terry (32)

Shawn Marion (30)

Brendan Haywood (19)

Jose Barea (16)

So that's Dallas---their lineup includes their greatest player ever (Dirk) and one of the best 4th quarter scorers in the league (Jet),

 

The Hawks went with:

Jamal Crawford (36)

Jeff Teague (13)

Zaza Pachulia (16)

Damien Wilkins (13)

Josh Powell (7)

 

Ok, well, so, you know, the Hawks have been down this road before, and you can't play your starters all the time, and Smoove and Bibby were in foul trouble so, you know, hope for the best?

The results of that 4 minutes span of time:

Possession 1: Turnover

Possession 2: The lone Hawk point--a Jeff Teague free throw.

Possession 3: A Turnover that followed a Dallas possession where they got (2) offensive rebounds and finally scored. 

Possession 4: Zaza blocked after the previous turnover turned into a dunk. 

Joe and Josh check in for Evans and Powell after the Mavericks get a free throw after another offensive rebound.

(This four possession, 2 1/2 minute stretch served to provide the Mavs with (3) of their (8) offensive rebounds for the night.)

Possession 5: Zaza blocked again---leading to a secondary break Dirk 3-pointer. Now a 10-1 run for the Mavs.

Al and Bibby check back in. Starting 4 plus Jamal now in.

Possession 6: Joe blocked by Marion leading to a Maverick layup (12-1 now)

Possession 7: Smith turns it over...and five seconds later JT cashes in the bucket. (91-79, Mavericks, 14-1 run.)

Oh sure, the Hawks could have bounced back, but it was clear the Mavs, in this little 4 minute stretch of "hey, wha' happened?" had scrambled the Hawks' eggs. Game over.

Bottom line: This is what a strategy of crossing your fingers in terms of depth can lead to when you play a team that employs a different tack in that regard. And if Jamal Crawford doesn't have it offensively, which he didn't tonight---a lineup like that starting a quarter against a lineup like the one Dallas put out there means you're gonna need a bigger boat. 

Silver Lining Solace: 

Jamal Crawford is the Rickey Henderson of 4-point plays. His third this season and 32nd overall happened in headier times...meaning the third quarter. That the great three point shooter and leg kick-out guru Reggie Miller has long since been left in the rearview tells me that this novelty (along with being in the 50 points in a game for three clubs) may be his for a long, long time.

Marvin Williams---MVP? His absence was felt, especially when we've tasted what we've missed over the last couple of games. Marvin, from me to you, lay off the Red Bull in the fourth quarter. You had some serious Atlanta Merging Madness going on with that Road Rage fight with Shawne Williams and nobody can explain it. Next time it happens, just find your happy place. We need you. 

Ummm...Al Horford and Joe Johnson had positive +/- for the game and played over 40 minutes. The Hawks lost by 10. The silver lining? All-star notoriety? 

FIFTY points in the paint again for the Hawks--executing their "get fifty points in the paint" strategy to perfection. They didn't get their "don't get whipped in the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter" strategy quite as right. 

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