Hawks crawl back from 26-point deficit to beat Mavericks

After the Hawks allowed the Dallas Mavericks to score 42 points in the first quarter, Kent Bazemore had a 14-point second quarter which pulled Atlanta back into the game.

Bazemore, who finished Wednesday’s 111-104 home win with a career-high 32 points, struggled with his shooting early just as the entire Hawks roster did, but the six-year veteran found some momentum late in the second quarter. It rubbed off on his teammates.

The Hawks trailed by 20 points to end the first quarter, but dug themselves a deeper hole through the second quarter to trail by as many as 26. The offensive woes from the first quarter seeped into the second as the Hawks totaled only three points in the first five minutes until Bazemore combined with Taurean Prince to give the Hawks a boost.

Prince, who was just 1-of-4 for three points until the middle of the second quarter, hit two free throws and a 3-pointer off an assist by Bazemore to jump start the Hawks’  rally. Bazemore also assisted DeAndre’ Bembry on the Hawks’ next possession for an alley-oop which reduced the deficit to 19 points. The Hawks shot below 33 percent from the field and arc before Prince’s shot sparked the offense.

Prince finished 8-of-15 from the field, 5-of-9 from the 3-point line, for 24 points, four rebounds and three assists.

After assisting on Prince and Bembry’s shots, Bazemore went on a scoring spree scoring 12 points over the next five minutes, 14 in the second quarter. The surge brought the Hawks within 10 entering halftime.

“We started executing a lot,” Bazemore said. “My teammates were setting good screens and were open and I had seven assists so guys were making good shot.”

While the Hawks benefited from more offensive success late in the second quarter, the second quarter was won because of adjustments on defense. The Hawks limited the Mavericks to 16 second-quarter points, .227 shooting from the field, .125 from the 3-point line.

“It was just personal pride on our defensive end,” coach Lloyd Pierce said of the Hawks’ defensive adjustment in the second quarter. “They knew that Dallas was getting whatever they wanted offensively and we wanted to just turn it up a little bit. Our offense wasn’t the issue, we just couldn’t stop them from scoring.”

While the Mavericks won the first half, the Hawks won the second. Led by five points by Prince and three by Bazemore, the Hawks started the half going on an 11-2 run. Prince scored on an alley-oop off an assist by rookie Trae Young for the second half’s first score followed by a 3-pointer. On the Hawks’ next possession, Young sank his first shot of the game with a 3-pointer that put the Hawks within four points.

“We don’t like to start third quarters slow. We’re trying to do it as best as possible,” Prince said. “It’s very important you try to start the first five minutes of the third quarter off very fast so you don’t get yourself into a bind. That was the mindset I had.”

The Hawks scored 17 points in the first five minutes of the second half.

Young made only one shot entering the fourth quarter after recording a 35-point game Sunday in Cleveland, but his scoring power came into play in the fourth quarter Wednesday when he made three free throws to give the Hawks their first lead, 96-95 with 5:13 left on the clock. In addition to eight fourth-quarter points by Bazemore, Young scored 10 in the final six minutes to seal the game.

Young finished 3-of-12 from the field and 10-of-13 on free throws for 17 points. He also recorded four rebounds and five assists.

The Hawks shot .407 from the field and were 15-of-38 beyond the arc, besting the Mavericks from the 3-point line. The Mavericks ended Wednesday shooting .418 from the field and .300 from the 3-point line.

“We got stagnant in the first half,” Pierce said. “We were playing from behind and we were trying to hit home-run plays and we didn’t penetrate and pinch like we wanted to.”

Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon played in his first game of the season after suffering an avulsion fracture in his left ankle. Dedmon played 14 minutes and and scored three points, going 1-of-4 from the field with five rebounds.

“(Dedmon) just yelled at me because I cut him short 58 seconds,” Pierce said. “I don’t think he had 58 more seconds in him. ...  It was good to have him back out there.”

Hawks forward Alex Poythress left the game in the first half with a left-knee injury and did not return. Poythress landed awkwardly after playing six minutes and hitting a  free throw. After the game, Pierce said Poythress hyperextended his knee.

The Hawks host the Bulls Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at State Farm Arena.

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