DALLAS – It took some time for the Dallas Mavericks to shake totally free of the lowly Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. And they can thank coach Rick Carlisle for the huge assist.
Not happy with the officiating, Carlisle received a pair of technical fouls and an automation ejection less than four minutes into the third quarter. That appeared to be the spark that helped catapult the Mavs to a 114-107 triumph over the Hawks before a sellout crowd of 19,643 at American Airlines Center.
The victory was the Mavs’ 11th straight at home and their longest winning streak at home since they won 12 in a row from Dec. 29, 2008-Feb. 29, 2008. It also increased the Mavs’ record to 15-11 and moved them four games over .500 for the first time since they were 33-29 on Mar. 3, 2016.
Carlisle received his two technical fouls after he vehemently protested what he thought should have been a foul when Harrison Barnes drove to the basket. After Dewayne Dedmon nailed the two free throws, the Hawks had netted their largest lead of the game at 63-57.
However, Carlisle’s two technicals apparently lit a fire under the Mavs as they outscored the Hawks 57-44 the remainder of the game and flew to Phoenix for a Thursday night game against the Suns with 12 wins in their last 15 games.
Mavs lead assistant coach Stephen Silas took over the head coaching chores after Carlisle’s departure. And when asked why did the Mavs start playing better following Carlisle’s ejection, he said: “Rick did that. He got them going. His energy got them going and I tried to continue that energy with the group.
“They did a really good job after Rick got thrown out of the game. They hung on and were great. The first timeout was chaos because everyone was talking to each other and I was trying to get my point across, but I think everyone settled down after that.”
A series of 3-point field goals by Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Luka Doncic and Barnes bolted the Mavs ahead, 109-94, with 3:22 remaining in the game and they cruised to the winner’s circle from there.
In snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Hawks, the Mavs were able to avenge a 111-104 loss in Atlanta back on Oct. 24 when they blew a 26-point lead. The Mavs were 32-of-43 from the free throw line, including 12-of-15 by Doncic, who was sporting a fresh new haircut.
“Tonight was just a testament to what we’ve been able to battle through since the beginning of the season,” said Barnes, who led all scorers with 25 points. “We battled through adversity, especially not having coach out there with us.
“I thought as a team we did a good job. One through 15, I think we did a great job to get a great win.”
Barnes had three early 3-pointers which staked the Mavs to a 15-9 lead and helped Dallas nudge ahead, 28-26, after the first quarter. But the pesky Hawks clawed ahead 52-51 at intermission before the fireworks began early in the third quarter.
“You don’t usually see a head coach get tossed so quickly in a game,” Barnes said. “But even with that we have to give credit to coach Silas and (assistant) coach (Jamahl) Mosley.
“Those guys both stepped up almost seamlessly running the show for us and they kept us locked into what we needed to do.”
While all of that was going on, of course the featured attraction in this game was the rookie clash between the Hawks’ Trae Young and Doncic, who were traded for each other on draft day last June. Young collected 24 points and 10 assists, while Doncic finished with 24 points,10 rebounds and six assists.
“We talked about (Doncic) getting to the free throw line and he got there 15 times tonight,” Silas said. “That was big.
“He is so big and has such a good feel for angles. He actually got a cutting foul tonight which was really big for us, so creating for other guys but also getting to the free throw line was a really big part of the win tonight.”
Also a big part of the win for the Mavs was DeAndre Jordan (11 points, 11 rebounds) and reserve players J. J. Barea (18 points) and Finney-Smith (11 points, six rebounds, three steals). And Silas.
“I did not know I was going to be coaching tonight, but as the lead assistant you are always prepared just in case,” Silas said. “So you prepare for every single game just in case.
“I didn’t expect it at all, but I was happy that we came out with a win.”
NOTES: Guard J. J. Barea rolled his ankle while running off the floor during a timeout when he accidentally stepped on a teammates’ foot. He hopes the swelling goes down so he’ll be able to play Thursday night in Phoenix. But he was limping very noticeably when the Mavs arrived at their hotel in Phoenix. . .At halftime of Wednesday’s game, Mavs rookie Luka Doncic received a trophy for winning the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the month of November. . .Folks got excited when they heard Dirk Nowitzki was listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game. In the Mavs’ previous 25 games Nowitzki was listed as “out.’ Despite the upgrade, Nowitzki didn’t play against the Hawks and has yet to play this season after undergoing left ankle surgery on Apr. 5. The “questionable” status means Nowitzki is getting closer to making is 2018-’19 debut, which could come Thursday night in Phoenix. . .Before Wednesday’s game, coach Rick Carlisle was praising Atlanta Hawks forward Vince Carter, who played for Carlisle and the Mavs during the 2011-’14 seasons. “Vince was great here in Dallas,” Carlisle said. “He was just phenomenal. The first year he was a starter, then he asked to become our designated sixth man when Jason Terry left, and for two years he was just tremendous. He was a leader of the team, he never missed practice, he went hard, he became a fan favorite. He was a big part of some real success stories in those two years, including the seven-game run against San Antonio that one year when he hit a big game-winner in that series.” In the first round of the 2014 playoffs, the No. 8-seeded Mavs took the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs to the limit before losing in seven games. Carter, though, drilled a double-pump 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Mavs to a dramatic 109-108 win in Game 3 of that series. “Just really an amazing career, an amazing athlete, just a tremendous person,” Carlisle said of Carter. “I don’t know how long he’s going to keep playing. I don’t know that he’s said this is his last year, but whatever he does beyond basketball he’ll be extremely successful. I think he’ll probably do broadcasting or go into politics. Whatever it is he’ll be impactful and a very positive force.” At 41 years old, Carter is the oldest player in the NBA. At 40, Dirk Nowitzki is the second oldest. The two former teammates had a warm embrace after the game. . .Carlisle said, leading up to the draft when he saw Luka Doncic on film for the first time, his first reaction was: “That guy’s good. That guy’s good and I’m not sure what position he is, but he is going to be an impact player. You could tell he was good. How good? (Mavs general manager) Donnie Nelson was the one that thought he was going to be really exceptionally good and exceptionally good early.”