Atlanta's defense didn't show up on Monday night and allowed the Dallas Mavericks to score a season-high number of points to comfortably beat the Hawks 127-113 at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
Sitting in fifth in the Eastern Conference and riding a three game winning streak against a team that is almost out of the NBA's post season picture 11th in the west and four games behind the eighth placed Lakers) the Atlanta Hawks should not have not lost this game but they allowed Dallas to shoot 60% from the field in the first three quarters and couldn't keep up.
Atlanta kept it close through six minutes of the first quarter, lost the lead for good and struggled to stay close. Dallas shot 75% from downtown in the first quarter and used that to stay ahead for good
Nowitzki played the paint very effectively taking advantage of some very tight refereeing to draw several questionable fouls. His presence was a constant problem for the Hawks and he ended up scoring 22 points.
Darren Collison came off the bench to lead all scorers with 24 points on 10 of 14 shots from the field including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. He had 15 points in the second period.
"I was able to get it going," Collison said. "A lot of players in this league, once they get it going that basket looks bigger and bigger, and that's what happened in the second quarter."
Hawks Coach Larry Drew was not happy with the way the Hawks played. "...they had their mind made up that they were bringing it to us, and we didn't respond very well. That's not acceptable at this stage of the season."
Mavs Coach Rick Carlisle is looking forward to the challenge of getting into the playoffs for the thirteenth year in a row. "We've been bouncing back all year," Carlisle said. "We've had a lot of opportunities to do that, unfortunately. We've got 15 left and we're going to throw the kitchen sink at all 15. We're going to have to be right and we're going to have to be together."
Darren Collison added "We still believe we can make it. There's no quit in us. We believe that every game from here out we can get a win. We're talented enough. We've got the players to do it."
Jeff Teague scored 19 points to lead the Hawks and seven other players scored in double figures including Al Horford who had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Josh Smith who added 13 points for Atlanta.
Atlanta faces the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Wednesday while the Mavs head back to Big D to take on the Brooklyn Nets.