It wasn’t a game-winner, but it did win the game.
Devin Harris’ come-from-behind steal with 23 seconds left against O.J. Mayo and the Mavericks preserved Atlanta’s triumph as the Hawks picked up a rare road victory, winning 105-101 in Dallas on Monday.
Atlanta was leading 99-98 when Elton Brand swiped the ball away from Josh Smith and into the oncoming path of Mayo, who tried to outrace the Hawks defense in transition and score the go-ahead bucket but couldn’t as Harris snuck up behind him, poked the ball away, and then saved it before it went out of bounds.
“I just kind of wanted to sit behind and see if he would put the ball back in his right hand,” Harris said in his post-game comments. “When he did, I was able to steal it away at the right time.”
Smith then sank two clutch free-throws to put Atlanta up 101-98, essentially securing the victory.
The Mavericks had an opportunity to tie the game in the final 20 seconds if they hit a 3-pointer, but instead Mayo threw an errand pass to Vince Carter before he could clear a screen and the ball wound up bouncing off Jeff Teague’s back and into the Hawks possession.
After getting fouled, Teague made the ensuing two free-throws to put Atlanta up by five points. Dirk Nowitzki came down and hit a trey with six seconds left to cut Dallas’ deficit to 103-101, but it was too little too late as Kyle Korver sank the final two foul-shots of the game to give the Hawks the 105-101 victory.
Smith led Atlanta with 26 points and 13 rebounds in 39 minutes of action (all game-high’s). He also added six assists so his stat line. Al Horford chipped in with a double-double of his own, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 boards to go with three steals, two blocks and two assists. Atlanta’s dynamic duo of Smith (10-of-15) and Horford (10-of-14) shot a combined .689 percent (20-of-29) as they dominated Dallas all night long.
The Hawks improve to 11-2 when both Smoove and Big Al each produce double-double’s in the same game.
Teague also made up much of the scoring action for Atlanta but narrowly missed a double-double performance, falling one assist short as he finished with 20 points and nine helpers on 50 percent shooting (7-of-10). Harris (15) and Korver (10) also scored in double-figures.
The Mavericks had six players reach double-digit points led by tenured German Dirk Nowitzki, who dropped 24 in the game on an efficient 8-of-14 overall. The same can’t be said for Mayo as he struggled mightily throughout the night taking 20 shots and only scoring 19 points. Darren Collison was the lone double-double man for Dallas, going for 14 points and 10 assists, while Vince Carter had 13 points. Carter hit four-of-five 3-pointers in the game but didn’t hit any of his five 2-point shots. Brandan Wright (11) and Shawn Marion (10) also reached double-figures.
The Atlanta Hawks (28-22) continue their road trip next game as they visit division foe Orlando Magic (15-36) on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7:00 PM (EST).