It appeared as if the Mavericks were going to steal a victory from the Hawks.
Devin Harris stole it back.
The Hawks led for much of the game, jumping to a double-digit lead minutes from the opening tip, but had to erase a late five-point deficit for a 105-101 victory over the Mavericks Monday night at American Airlines Center.
With the Hawks holding a one-point lead, Josh Smith had the ball stolen by Elton Brand with 30 seconds remaining. O.J. Mayo took the ball and drove down the court, only to have Harris re-steal the ball and put the Hawks back in control. Smith was fouled after the steal and made two free throws with 22.2 seconds remaining for a 101-98 lead.
With the Mavericks setting up a last-second attempt, Jeff Teague stole a bad pass by Mayo and made two free throws with 13 seconds remaining for a five-point cushion.
Dirk Nowitzki sunk a 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds remaining to pull the Mavericks to within 103-101. However, Kyle Korver iced the game with two free throws with 5.2 seconds left for the final margin.
“When he took off I wanted to sit behind and see if he put the ball back in his right hand,” Harris said. “I was just trying to make a play on it when he did. I was able to steal it away at the right time.”
Al Horford was also chasing down Mayo on the pivotal play.
“My first reaction, I was getting back,” Horford said. “If Devin wouldn’t have gotten it, I would have been there to at least contest. So, my first thought was don’t let them score. Here comes Devin and makes an amazing play. That was the play of the game by far.”
The Hawks (28-22) got a much-needed road victory, just their second win away from home in the past 10. The other came against the Bobcats.
The Hawks placed five players in double-figure scoring with starters Smith (a game-high 26 points and 13 rebounds), Horford (21 points, 10 rebounds), Jeff Teague (20) and Devin Harris (15) and reserve Korver (10). Smith had a career-tying four 3-pointers, including one in the final two minutes.
The Hawks trailed by five points, 91-86, with 6:29 remaining before the Hawks made a push to regain their lead.
“We kept our cool,” Horford said. “We had a very good rhythm. We didn’t panic. We’ve been in positions like this before. We’ve lost games like this. This time we were the better team.”
The Mavericks (22-29) had a two-game winning streak snapped. They had six double-figure scorers of their own with starters Dirk Nowitzki (24), Mayo (19), Darren Collison (14) and Shawn Marion (10) and reserves Vince Carter (13) and Brandan Wright (11).
The Mavericks didn’t take their first lead of the game, 84-82, on a basket by Jae Crowder with 11:09 remaining.
The Mavericks tied the game midway through the third quarter on a three-point play by Collison with 6:06 remaining in the period. However, the Hawks answered with an 18-10 run. The margin was just one point going into the final quarter as the Mavericks closed with a 7-0 run.
Teague was one assist shy of his own double-double. He scored 10 first-half points, many by driving into the lane and using a reverse layup.
“We’ve been working on my finishes,” Teague said. “Most big guys can contest the first shot but they can’t move that well for the second, the little dipsy-doo. I saw there was an opportunity to use it tonight and it worked.”
The Hawks took a narrow 49-48 lead into halftime despite leading by as many as 13 points in the first quarter. The Hawks jumped out to a 13-2 lead as the Mavericks missed their first six shots.
“The game was lost in the first three minutes when we were down 10-0,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “We weren’t ready to play. If you want it simple, that’s simple. It’s on me.”
Korver extended his franchise-record streak to 44 straight games with a 3-pointer.
“I’ve said it all along that we have to be a team first and I thought our guys made a conscious effort tonight of defending,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “We made a few mistakes down the stretch defensively. For the most part we did an excellent job of executing our game plan and our strategy of trying to keep them off balance as best we can.”
The Hawks play their final game before the All-Star break Wednesday at the Magic.