By Donnell Suggs | The Atlanta Voice
It was a tale of two rosters as the Dallas Mavericks came to town and spoiled the Hawks preseason finale at McCamish Pavilion winning 108-94 on Thursday night. The Mavericks, sans Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, J.J. Barea and Seth Curry, would combine to make 19 three-pointers (19-48 for 39.6% to be precise) during the victory.
Atlanta would only outscore their opponent during the third quarter (30-24) and be outrebounded 46-39. The two strengths of this particular Hawks team — transition defense and rebounding — failed to help them on this night.
Guess who the Hawks open the regular season against next Wednesday, Oct. 18? The Dallas Mavericks. So much for the theory of “It’s only a preseason game.”
The Dallas backcourt of rookie Dennis Smith, Jr. and second-year guard Yogi Ferrell gave the Hawks defense fits midway through the first quarter as the duo scored eight straight points to give the Mavericks a 14-10 lead.
The Hawks fell behind by 12 points at the end of the period after three consecutive Mavericks three-point shots by rookie guard Gian Clavell, German rookie forward Max Kleber and rookie forward and former South Carolina star PJ Dozier. The Hawks finished the first 12 minutes of the game with seven turnovers while also being outrebounded 14-10.
The second quarter wouldn’t start any better as a 9-4 Mavericks run capped by a Smith, Jr. drive would force Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer to call a timeout at the 8:49 mark. The final preseason game is usually a tune-up for the season ahead but the Hawks were getting a tougher test tonight than from Memphis a few nights earlier.
Trouble spots in their perimeter defense and transition defense -normally a strength under Budenholzer- were being exposed.
The game would slow a bit midway through the second quarter as Hawks forward Kent Bazemore and Ferrell would trade three-pointers. The Hawks were still down 43-33 after a few Taurean Prince free-throws with six minutes remaining in the half.
Dallas’ lead would extend to 16 points at the 3:05 mark as Ferrell’s alley-oop pass to center Nerlens Noel was converted into points.
With 2:26 remaining the Mavericks would have their largest lead of the game at 18. A Dennis Schroder jump shot just before half -he started the game 0-5- would bring the Hawks with 16 points at halftime. Smith would sit the entire second half with an ankle sprain.
Bazemore would have his best quarter of the preseason with 13 points -he only scored five during the first half. A more aggressive Bazemore, in his fourth season with the Hawks and second after signing a huge free agent contract, would go a long way to steady this young team.
The Hawks second unit, namely DeAndre’ Bembry and John Collins, would change the game and along with help from rookie guard Tyler Dorsey from behind the three-point arch, would help cut the Mavericks lead to 10 points, 81-71, at the end of the third quarter.
Atlanta would pull within seven points on a Mucala three-pointer, Prince three-pointer, Bazemore pull-up jumper and a beautiful no-look pass from Bazemore to Muscala before the Mavericks bench mob would strike again.
Maalik Wayns knocked down the two biggest three-point shots of the game for Dallas as the Hawks rally gained steam. Another by Clavell (who would finish the game with a team-high 19 points) would put Dallas ahead 94-81 with eight minutes to play. Dallas would close the game on a 10-5 run.
Bazemore scored a game-high 20 points and looked to return to his 204-15 form. The only other Hawks player in double-figures was Prince with 11 points. Schroder shot 2-10 for nine points.
Follow Suggs on Twitter @suggswriter.