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Josh Smith helps Hawks hold off Mavericks

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- Josh Smith scored 26 points, the last two on free throws with 22 seconds left, and the Atlanta Hawks held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 105-101 Monday night at American Airlines Center.

The Hawks led for most of the game, but they needed a charge late in the fourth quarter to outlast the Mavericks. Atlanta (28-22) finishes up a two-game road trip Wednesday at Orlando before the league breaks for All-Star Weekend.

"This was probably one of the biggest wins for us this year coming into an arena that is very tough to play in," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "We all know our guys played well tonight. Josh Smith, he was huge for us tonight. Al Horford did a phenomenal job. Jeff Teague got us off to a fast start."

The Mavericks (22-29) had won the first two games on a four-game homestand leading into the festivities in Houston. The homestand ends Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings.

Dallas was hoping for a home sweep to inch closer to .500 and put itself in better position to land a playoff spot. Instead, the Mavericks lost another game they had a chance to pull out.

"We've just got to learn from these things and get better, and we have gotten better," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "But we haven't broken the threshold that's going to make us a team that can really become a dangerous team. I think we're a dangerous team. I think we can beat anybody on any given night, but the consistency has got to be better."

Smith, the subject of much trade speculation, made 10 of 15 shots, including four of five from beyond the 3-point arc. His biggest 3-pointer capped a 12-3 run that gave Atlanta a 99-94 lead with 1:20 remaining. Smith also had 13 rebounds and six assists.

Horford contributed to Atlanta's strong play inside with 21 points and 10 boards. Teague added 20 points and nine assists. Devin Harris scored 15 points and had a huge steal in the last minute against his former club.

Dirk Nowitzki tallied a team-best 24 points for Dallas, his second-highest scoring game of the season. O.J. Mayo had 19, and Darren Collison added 14 points and 10 assists.

Dallas didn't take its first lead of the game until early in the fourth quarter, as Jae Crowder nailed an 18-footer for 84-82 edge. The Mavs struggled with shooting and turnovers down the stretch, and Smith came up big for the visitors.

Collison's three-point play midway through third quarter forged the game's first deadlock (64-64) before Harris answered with a 3-pointer. The Hawks pushed out to an eight-point lead but settled for an 82-81 advantage going into the fourth after Dallas closed the quarter with a 7-0 spurt.

"We kept trying to put them away, but they kept finding ways to make big shots," Horford said. "That's the type of team they are. They're going to turn it around the second half of the season and they're going to be in the hunt trying to make the playoffs in the West."

The Hawks opened the game with a 10-0 run, prompting two timeouts from Carlisle. Teague was a pest, either breaking down the defense to get to the rim or zipping the ball inside to his teammate for easy looks.

"The game was lost in the first three minutes," Carlisle said. "We were down 10-0. We weren't ready to play. If you want it simple, that's simple. And it's on me. I didn't have our guys ready to play.

"I'm taking all the responsibility for this. You've got a team of guys that just goes out and is just walking around at the beginning of the game. That's on the coach."

On the verge of being blown out, the Mavericks found their footing and methodically got back into the game. Mayo began to heat up, and Dallas finished the second period on an 18-8 run to trail just 49-48 at the break.

Horford had 11 points at the half for Atlanta, with Teague scoring 10 and Zaza Pachulia adding eight off the bench. Dallas got 13 first-half points from Mayo and nine from Nowitzki.

NOTES: Despite trade speculation surrounding veterans Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, Carlisle said he doesn't expect any deals before the Feb. 21 deadline. "I don't think we're going to trade anybody," Carlisle said. "That's my opinion." Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the team is willing to make a move but has been unable to find a willing partner. The billionaire added the team needs to get back a player it can build around in the future. ... Regarding the Smith trade rumors, Drew said, "He has been able to keep his focus, and he's been professional about it." ... Hawks guard Kyle Korver, the league's leading 3-point shooter, played despite missing practice Sunday with shin and ankle injuries. He scored 10 points ... Dallas came into the game averaging about 107 points over the previous 14 games.
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