ATLANTA — On a day when they weren’t even sure they would be playing because of bad weather, the Atlanta Hawks received a strong effort from All-Star forward Paul Millsap that got them focused and turned in the right direction.
Millsap scored seven of his 15 points during a 13-0 stretch in the third quarter, and the Hawks surged past the Dallas Mavericks for a 104-87 win.
Atlanta (45-12) rallied from four points behind to nine points ahead in the third period. Millsap tied the game with a 3-pointer and capped the streak with a steal and dunk and another driving basket that put Atlanta ahead 66-57. Succeeding back-to-back baskets by guard Kyle Korver switched the momentum totally in Atlanta’s favor.
“It was definitely an interesting day,” said Korver, who didn’t learn the game would be officially played until about 3 p.m. as a winter storm hit the area. “We didn’t come out well. We finally got in rhythm and made some plays.”
The win was the NBA-leading 26th home victory for the Hawks, who won their second straight and swept the season series with the Mavericks. Atlanta swept a fifth series from a Western Conference foe.
Dallas (39-21) had its two-game winning streak snapped.
“I’m disappointed with the outcome, but not with the effort,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
Atlanta had six players score in double figures: guard Dennis Schroder (17 points), Korver (16), Millsap, forward DeMarre Carroll (13), center Al Horford (11) and guard Jeff Teague (11).
Guard Monta Ellis paced Dallas with 17 points, 15 in the first half. J.J. Barea, who started
at point guard in place of the suspended Rajon Rondo, had 13 points and seven assists. Forward Richard Jefferson and guard Devin Harris each scored 10.
After Atlanta opened the game with a 3-pointer, Dallas responded by scoring 11 straight points. The Mavs did it with some hot shooting, sinking seven of their first nine field-goal attempts.
“They were making a lot of tough shots,” Korver said.
The Mavericks saw Atlanta pull to within four, then outscored the Hawks 16-6 to take a 31-17 lead.
Atlanta got back in the game with a solid second quarter. Schroder provided a lift off the bench with eight points and helped trim Dallas’ lead to 53-47 at halftime.
“I thought early, middle and late, Dennis was really a big factor,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I thought he guarded and I thought he did a lot of things well. We needed him tonight.”
Atlanta kept the momentum in the third period and kept chipping away until Millsap took a pass from Carroll and knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 57-57.
The Hawks kept the pressure up. They went ahead on the next possession when Korver connected on a 3-pointer and pushed the lead to five when Korver grabbed a missed shot and scored on a reverse layup.
By the end of the quarter, Atlanta held a 77-68 lead, and the Mavericks never made another serious threat.
“Our aggressiveness to start the third quarter got the players comfortable with what we were doing, and we just stuck to our basics,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said.
After scoring 34 points in the first period, Dallas failed to score 20 in any of the next three quarters.
“(The Hawks) had a lot of juice. I thought we played hard,” Carlisle said. “We got some decent looks and weren’t able to convert them, and they just kept converting. We weathered a couple of runs in the first half, but in the end, we ran out of gas.”
Dallas scored just 34 points in the second half, a season low for the Mavs and a season best for the Hawks.