Finley scored eight points as the Mavericks began the game with a 17-2 burst, then helped turn away Atlanta’s third-quarter challenge by scoring 12 points in that period as Dallas took an 85-57 lead entering the final 12 minutes.
Finley sat out the fourth quarter as coach Don Nelson emptied his bench. He was joined there by Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 14 points. Shawn Bradley netted 10 as the Mavericks won their third consecutive game.
“Going into the game, I thought that if I was more aggressive, offensively and defensively, the team would feed off of that,” Finley said.
Despite a 49-39 halftime lead, Nelson was displeased with his team’s play, and let them know it in the locker room.
“He was disappointed, real disappointed, said Dallas guard Nick Van Exel, who was scoreless in 17 minutes. “He expects so much of us, and when we play as poorly as we did in the first half, he’s going to get on us.”
The Mavericks shot 51 percent (40-of-78) and hit 16-of-17 free throws. They improved the NBA’s best record to 41-12 and look to have recovered nicely from a three-game slide that preceded their winning streak.
Dallas jumped out to a 6-0 lead as Finley and Nowitzki canned 3-pointers while the Hawks floundered on offense.
Atlanta did not register its first basket until a short jumper by Robinson with 6:04 left made it 17-4.
“It was a team that we needed to put away after the start we had,” said Raef LaFrentz, who finished with nine points.
The Mavericks enjoyed a 49-39 halftime lead, but the Hawks crept back in and cut the deficit to 53-45 on Abdur-Rahim’s basket 2:20 into the third quarter.
Dallas’ answer was swift and decisive, as LaFrentz sank a jumper, Finley nailed a 3-pointer and Nowitzki knocked down a 14-footer to pace a 12-2 run.
“Finley was the only guy that played with the intensity that I wanted for this particular game,” said Nelson, who felt that his team was looking ahead to Thursday’s game against San Antonio.
The bulge grew as large as 91-57 on a 3-pointer by Adrian Griffin 72 seconds into the final quarter.
Theo Ratliff netted 11 points, nine rebounds and four steals and rookie Dan Dickau added 10 points for the Hawks, who were held to 32 percent (25-of-79) from the field and shot 3-of-19 from 3-point range.