Mavericks stay hot, topple Hawks
Jason Terry hasn't forgotten his point guard skills.
Terry had a season-high 11 assists and scored 18 points against his former team, Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points and the Dallas Mavericks used a balanced approach to beat the Atlanta Hawks 102-91 on Saturday night.
The Mavericks look for Terry to provide scoring off the bench, and he continues to do that. But when the Hawks double-teamed him, he found the open man.
''The 11 assists were huge, but don't forget, this guy was a point guard,'' Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. ''He's a clutch scorer and a terrific playmaker.''
The Mavericks are 9-0 this season when they have at least six players with 10 or more points.
''It's about spreading it around,'' Terry said. ''Offensively, guys are penetrating in and it's beautiful. Coach Carlisle told us it's a beautiful thing to watch when you see guys move the ball the way we do. He said there's probably only two teams that do it in this league, and it's us and San Antonio. It's the reason for our success.''
The Mavericks have won five of six after a six-game losing streak.
Nowitzki's getting his shooting touch back.
He sat out nine games with a sprained right knee from Dec. 28-Jan. 14, returning on Jan. 15. He's paced the Mavs in scoring in four of his eight games back, but hasn't contributed more than 23 points in any of his last six games.
Entering Saturday, Nowitzki was shooting 39 percent from the field since coming back from the injury. This time, he was eight for 11 from the floor, a sign to Carlisle that his top scorer is getting back into game shape after the layoff.
''He's making progress,'' Carlisle said. ''His offensive flow was a lot better. He's getting closer to where he was, and that's encouraging.''
The Hawks had won 13 of their previous 17, including Friday night's 111-102 home victory over the Knicks.
For three quarters, the Mavericks had problems preventing Johnson from getting inside. Johnson scored 18 of his first 20 points in the paint, and the Hawks led 78-77 to start the fourth quarter.
But Dallas opened the final quarter with a 14-1 run capped by Terry's 17-footer with 8:07 left for a 91-79 lead.
The Mavericks stepped up defensively down the stretch as the Hawks missed seven of their first eight field goal attempts in the final quarter. Shawn Marion was given the responsiblity of guarding Johnson for most of the fourth quarter, and Johnson missed three of his final five shots.
The Hawks were 4 of 15 from the field in the fourth quarter.
''This one hurt,'' Johnson said. ''We had total control heading into the fourth quarter. It got out of hand and we couldn't get back in it.''
Atlanta was without starting forward Marvin Williams, who began serving a two-game suspension handed down by the NBA earlier Saturday for throwing punches in Friday night's game.
Marvin Williams started the altercation when he shoved New York's Shawne Williams in the back as they ran up the court with 43 seconds left in the the game.
By halftime, Johnson had 16 points on 8-for-12 shooting, but Dallas finished the second quarter with a 7-0 run for a 52-49 lead at the break.
Nowitzki hit four of his five shots in the opening quarter and scored eight points as Dallas took a 28-24 advantage into the second quarter.
The Mavericks were 98-93 winners in Atlanta on Nov. 20, the only other meeting between the teams this season. Dallas has won nine of the last 12 against the Hawks.
NOTES: Marvin Williams has already missed 15 games this season with back and right knee injuries. ... F Maurice Evans moved into the starting lineup in place of Marvin Williams, who's averaging 10.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. ... Mavericks F Sasha Pavlovic was released after the game. His second 10-day contract lapsed on Saturday, and Dallas had the option of signing him for the rest of the season. But the Mavs decided to keep their options open to bring in another player, and they also have recently signed F Peja Stojakovic closing in on joining the rotation. Carlisle thanked Pavlovic after the game, and Mavericks players applauded Pavlovic, who has been starting. ''He's done so much for us, he played hard,'' Chandler said. ''It's always tough with a guy like that because you welcome him and get to know him and then he's on his way out.'' ... Dallas is 21-1 this season when scoring 100 or more points.