I had to watch this on Tivo because we were out to dinner with some friends. As it turns out, I missed all the good stuff before I got home and found out the final score. It's okay, though. The regular season isn't supposed to matter this year for the Mavs, right? At least that's what I keep hearing over and over and over and over again.
1. Joe Johnson - I was as curious as anyone when he opted to leave the Suns in order to be The Man on a bad team. Now he has a good, young nucleus around him and he's starting to make his decision look like a good one. He drained the clutch shot to seal this one and finished with 28 points on 12 of 22 shooting, 7 boards, 4 assists and a steal.
2. Jason Terry - JET is starting to take to this 6th man role quite nicely, and he started the second half due to Devin Harris going down with a thigh contusion. JET got the Mavs back in this game in the 3rd quarter and finished with 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting, 6 assists, 3 steals and a block.
3. Tyronn Lue - I would have put Josh Smith here for his amazing 18 points, 11 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks, but I have to take off points for the 6 turnovers and his unintentional knee to the inside of Devin Harris's thigh that forced him out for the rest of the game. Instead I will give it to Lue, who happens to be a slightly awkward looking individual, because when his team needed him the most in the 4th quarter, he stepped up and delivered some huge shots to keep the Mavs at bay. He finished with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal.
- Dirk's Digits: Dirk had a good game, but it wasn't enough. He finished with 28 points on 10 of 22 shooting, 8 boards, 2 assists, a steal and sweaty, golden locks.
- Acie Law is a Dallas area kid that grew up as a Mavs fan. He gets to start his NBA career that he's dreamed about against his favorite hometown team that he dreamed of playing for. That has to be surreal.
- The Hawks are a very young, athletic, talented team with some serious potential to be a dark horse playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Since they have been so poor during their 8 year playoff drought, a lot of people will just think that the Mavs dropped a game against an inferior team because they overlooked them. I think the Hawks might just be legit this year, and could knock off more than their share of top teams during the season.
- The refs called Devin Harris for palming early in the game. I've seen much worse go uncalled, but it seems to be developing into a trend. This crew is calling palming, traveling, arm checks, etc. almost by the book. Very rare, but at least they are consistent with it.
- Atlanta had a good draft with Al Horford and Law. As I have said, they could be poised to make a decent playoff run this year with a young, talented team of Johnson, Josh Smith, Horford, Law, Marvin Williams and Sheldon Williams.
- It's a shame that Devin Harris got injured when he did because he was off to a hot start. He had the first 10 points for the Mavs in the first 6 minutes and was on pace for a 22 point game when he went down.
- The Mavs aren't shooting well to start this game, nor are they rebounding well or defending points in the paint. That has to make Avery Johnson livid.
- The Hawks mascot dressed up and did an impersonation of one of Mark Cuban's Dancing With The Stars routines. When it was over, they invited Cubes to join them on the court to dance, but he politely declined. The "politely" part is negotiable.
- On the replay, Devin Harris took Josh Smith's knee right on the inside of his left thigh. It looked like it hurt something awful, but it could have been about 6 inches higher, in which case it would have hurt even worse.
- From the Kinda Corny Department: Jason Terry reveals why he wears #31. It's because in high school, he used to say there were 31 flavors to his game, a reference to the popular ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins.
- One of those 31 flavors in JET's game was a sweet behind-the-back pass to Dirk on a fast break for the slam dunk. That came in the midst of JET and Dirk's run to get the Mavs back in the game after being down by 15, but Atlanta isn't going away.
- Some dude in the crowd is wearing a Sixers jersey. In Atlanta. At a Hawks game. Against the Mavs. What?
- J.J. Barea, my favorite Puerto Rican Maverick, went nuts for a short while, scoring at will. You can tell that he's not only a fan favorite because of his stature, but his teammates are all pulling for him, too. Every time he scores, the entire bench jumps up and down, high fiving each other, and yells out to him, "Ru-dy, ru-dy, ru-dy!"
- This game was tied at 92 a piece with just 2:10 left in the game before Atlanta slowly puts it away. The last two quarters where extremely stressful and close, and I even knew the outcome. The Hawks got the breaks and the Mavs missed their shots. The better team didn't win, but the team that played the best in this game did. If that makes sense.
The Mavs have the best record in the NBA over the last 3 seasons at 185-61, ahead of the Spurs, Suns and Pistons (in that order). Last is the Atlanta Hawks. As I said, though, after watching this game I'm a believer. Mark it down now. The Hawks will make the playoffs this year, and be a sleeper team to cause some upsets. But enough about them. Go Mavs!