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Hawks outlast Mavs in well-earned 112-107 victory

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That was fun.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Friday night’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder was excruciating for the Atlanta Hawks but a back-to-back provided an opportunity for redemption. Fortunately, this was a more favorable result and, although it took every bit of a 48-minute battle, the Hawks were able to secure a 112-107 victory to provide a bit of happiness before the Christmas hiatus.

The first half was executed in back-and-forth fashion and that was perfectly embodied by the opening minutes. Atlanta scored seven straight points to claim a five-point lead in the early going and, after a timeout, the Mavs immediately rattled off a 7-0 run of their own. From there, it was a quick jaunt to a 25-25 score after 12 minutes of action.

Ersan Ilyasova scored 10 points on 4 of 4 shooting in the first quarter and, while the defense scuffled, Atlanta’s offense (with some help from John Collins) performed well. In the second quarter, though, the defense improved (albeit slightly) as the offense gave out a bit.

All told, the Mavs took a 53-48 lead into the halftime break after a Harrison Barnes 3-point play at the buzzer and the Hawks had a 113.1 defensive rating to blame. There were bright spots in Ilyasova, Collins and Malcolm Delaney but, in short, a better overall effort would be needed in order to seriously compete after the halftime break.

On the bright side, there was some of this and we can never get enough.

Much of the third quarter was (very) positive for the Hawks and it began with a strong stretch from Dennis Schröder. The point guard was responsible for Atlanta’s first nine points (seven himself with one assist) and that aided in the home team taking the lead.

From there, the Hawks put together a 27-12 “run” to begin the second half and led by as many as 10 points at 75-65. The remainder of the period, though, was perilous, as the Mavs closed on a 15-4 spurt of their own to reclaim the lead despite a 12-point output from Schröder in the quarter.

In predictable fashion, the fourth quarter continued in see-saw fashion, with Schröder knocking down a three with 4:25 to go that placed Atlanta back in the lead by a 101-100 margin. After a Dallas timeout, the home team was able to extend the margin to three (thanks to some more heroics from Schröder) and, with crunch time arriving, optimism reigned.

Mavs guard JJ Barea then converted a three to tie the game at 105-105 but Ilyasova quickly scored to give the Hawks the advantage again. Unfortunately, the Mavs answered (after a lengthy possession) but that allowed Schröder to hit another shot (this one a three-pointer) to restore order at 110-107.

Mercifully, the Hawks were able to produce some stops at that point but the offense failed to provide any safety in the margin. Finally, Ilyasova committed a loose ball foul with 4.8 seconds to go, sending Harrison Barnes to the line with a three-point deficit and only two attempts. He missed both and, with the Hawks securing the rebound, that was enough to put away a hard-fought victory.

Schröder was the story of the evening, finishing with 33 points (including 27 in the second half) to go along with seven assists. In support, Ilyasova added 21 points and seven rebounds and the Hawks produced a tremendous offensive showing in an overall sense, converting 57 percent of their shots from the floor and 42 percent from beyond the arc on the way to a blistering performance.

The Hawks will now enjoy a three-day Christmas break before returning to action at home against the Wizards on Wednesday. Stay tuned.