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Mavs keep pushing for shot at postseason with win

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The Dallas Mavericks haven't given up their fight to make the NBA playoffs.

"We still believe. We still believe we can make it," said Darren Collison, who scored 15 of his 18 points off the bench in the first half on 8-of-9 shooting from the field and finished with 24 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 127-113 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night at Philips Arena.

"It was a defensive pillow fight, let's be honest," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We'll take the win and run."

Both teams played Sunday, but one wouldn't have known it by the pace. They started off running and never quit.

"Dallas brought intensity and we did not," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "They brought a playoff intensity. They brought a playoff energy after a tough game last night against Oklahoma City. Our game in Brooklyn was a big win for us, but we did not come in and bring a playoff energy and playoff intensity."

Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points and six rebounds for the Mavericks (32-35), who were playing their fourth game in five nights while battling for a playoff spot despite their sub-.500 record. Chris Kaman added 14 points and seven rebounds, O.J. Mayo had 17 points and Vince Carter chipped in 13.

The Hawks (37-30) lost despite shooting 56 percent from the field. Al Horford led the team with 16 points and 11 rebounds, his 38th double-double this season. Josh Smith had 13 points, five rebounds, six assists and his ninth technical foul of the season, which came with 8:57 left in the third quarter from veteran official Dick Bavetta.

"We got seduced into playing their style of play," Horford said. "They really pushed the tempo. I think what killed us was those turnovers. Those were deflating. We're on the break, we're about to score and we throw the ball away. I think that's what really set the tone in the game."

Jeff Teague and Devin Harris, playing together in the backcourt for much of the game, scored 19 and 10 points, respectively, for Atlanta. Teague added seven assists.

Kyle Korver extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one made 3-point shot to 60 with a 23-foor jump shot with 4:37 left in the second quarter. He added another 3-pointer and finished with 11 points.

The Mavericks hit six 3-pointers and shot 58 percent from the field in the first quarter, building a 34-25 lead.

It didn't take long for them to start pulling away in the second quarter. Only 10 points off the bench from Anthony Tolliver, who finished with 12, kept the Hawks' first-half deficit from being even greater than 68-55. That's the most points the Hawks have given up in a half this season and represented a comeback of sorts for the Hawks since the Mavericks led by as many as 19 points.

The Hawks went on a 9-2 spurt late in the third quarter to draw within 11 points at 92-81 with 1:39 to go in the quarter. But the threat didn't last long. The Mavericks finished the quarter leading 98-85 and shooting 60 percent from the field at that point.

NOTES: Drew started Harris and Teague together in the backcourt. It's a combination that worked well when the Hawks beat the Mavericks 105-101 on Feb. 11 in Dallas. Harris had 15 points and five assists that night and Teague had 20 points and nine assists. At this point in the season, Drew said, the two of them are comfortable on the floor together, and he likes their aggressiveness as a tandem. Drew has no preference which one brings the ball up the floor. "We're wheelin' and goin'!" he laughed. ... Carlisle, asked if the team had come out of Sunday night's 107-101 loss to Oklahoma City without any new injuries, said jokingly, "I hope so! If you heard something different, let me know!" ... Asked about current Hawk and former Maverick Dahntay Jones, Carlisle cracked, "I'm sure he'll be antagonizing the (heck) out of me the whole game! I'm looking forward to it." Informed of Carlisle's comment moments later, Jones joked, "I don't have time for Rick anymore." But he didn't foreswear needling Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. "Cuban!" he laughed. "That's my man!" ... The Mavericks play their next six games at home. ... The start of the fourth quarter was delayed after a Hawks cheerleaders fell during a routine and had to be taken from the court on a stretcher. She did not lose consciousness and was taken to a nearby medical center.
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