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Hawks battle injuries in 123-100 loss to Mavericks

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

The Atlanta Hawks traveled to Dallas on Saturday night to do battle with the Mavericks. The home team was without its two best players, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but the Hawks were in injury trouble of their own. Alex Len, DeAndre’ Bembry, Jabari Parker and Bruno Fernando continue to miss time at center, with De’Andre Hunter also ruled out of today’s game against the Mavs after injuring his ankle against the 76ers on Thursday.

Atlanta started Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Damian Jones once again, but inserted Cam Reddish in the place of the aforementioned Hunter.

Sadly, there was more injury news to come and that became perhaps the largest story of the evening.

The Hawks started off hot, taking a 15-5 lead thanks to some sharp shooting by Huerter, who knocked down his first three attempts from beyond the arc. Huerter was blazing hot in the first quarter overall and really helped Atlanta stay in the game as Young and Collins started out sluggish.

Young did hit a wild circus shot in the early going though, that you will need to see to believe.

The Mavericks had a slow start, but would have the last laugh of the first quarter, as they got a huge lift from Jalen Brunson. After a 12-3 run by the Hawks to open the game, Dallas responded with a 33-14 extended run to close the first quarter and take a 36-26 lead into the second period.

Things got especially messy from the end of the first quarter into the beginning of the second quarter, as the Hawks were forced to turn to what was essentially a three-man bench. That mess was exacerbated by a facial injury to Reddish which forced him to leave the game after just seven minutes played. Reddish would not return to action.

Dallas quickly stretched their lead out to 14 points with an offensive outburst in the opening minutes of the second. Atlanta battled back once Young, Huerter and Collins returned, but the Hawks couldn’t get a defensive stop at all.

The Mavericks’ first-half lead reached as many as 16, but the Hawks closed the second quarter well to only take a 13-point deficit into the locker room. Regardless, Dallas was the better team in the first half, and Atlanta didn’t look like they could keep up after their hot start.

The third quarter was where things really started to fall apart for the Hawks. Right away, the Mavs ran their lead up to 20. Atlanta really was hampered by the fact that they only had nine players available (following the Reddish injury) and were forced to play Jeff Teague, Vince Carter and Jones heavy minutes. The already poor defense was even worse during those stretches and Dallas took full advantage.

In the final five minutes of the third quarter, Atlanta scored just six points while the Mavericks continued to add to their lead. By the end of the third period, the Hawks found themselves down 97-72.

To make matters worse, near the end of the third quarter, Trae Young made his way to the locker room with an ankle sprain. He did not return.

Atlanta played relatively well at times in the fourth quarter, as Collins and Huerter did their best to absorb the scoring load. The Hawks played for long stretches with both Goodwin and Teague on the floor at the same time (out of necessity).

The game was never in doubt though, as the Mavericks cruised to a rather easy win without their two best players available.

John Collins led the way for Atlanta with yet another double-double, as he scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kevin Huerter added 20 more and tied his career high with six three-pointers made. Brandon Goodwin was solid in relief of Young as he scored 11 points, snatched seven boards and dished five assists.

For Dallas, it was Jalen Brunson’s night as he posted 27 points and eight assists in 25 minutes of action.

The Hawks will be back in action on Monday night to face the Boston Celtics in Atlanta.

Stay tuned.