There is room to grow – and lots of it.
The Mike Budenholzer era has begun and the tenure of the new Hawks coach started with a 118-109 loss to the Mavericks in a back-and-forth contest at the American Airlines Center Wednesday night. Blame the season opening loss on inconsistent play and a series of defensive lapses.
The Mavericks used a 17-2 third-quarter run to take control of the game. The decisive swing came after the Hawks had taken a three-point lead with 5:49 remaining in the period. Vince Carter ignited the run with an alley-oop dunk and the Mavericks never looked back.
“Give Dallas a lot of credit,” Budenholzer said. “I think they played really well for a lot of stretches – longer than our stretches. We played well at times. Give them credit for playing better, longer. That’s what we are talking to our team about, seeing if we can get those good stretches, those good cycles to be longer.”
The Mavericks led by as many as 16 points late in the fourth quarter with three straight 3-pointers in the final two minutes. Dirk Nowitzki hit two straight and Monta Ellis added another. The Mavericks made 7 of 8 3-pointers in the final quarter. They shot 57 percent from the field for the game.
“I think that we can all agree that we played well in spurts,” Al Horford said. “We weren’t consistent enough at times. We have to go back at the film and look at where we need to improve.”
Ellis led the Mavericks (1-0) with a game-high 32 points. Nowitzki added 24 points and Carter added 21 points.
The Hawks (0-1) were led by Jeff Teague with 24 points and nine assists. Paul Millsap added 20 points in his Hawks debut.
Kyle Korver ran his streak to 74 consecutive games with a 3-pointer, the fourth-longest in NBA history, with a long-range basket with under six minutes remaining. He is 15 behind Dana Barros’ record of 89. If Korver continues the streak he would tie the record on Nov. 27 at Houston and set the mark against the Mavericks Nov. 29 in Philips Arena.
“They shot the ball extremely well,” Korver said. “You have to give them a lot of credit. We were playing a couple of their guys to shoot jump shots and they were hot. We obviously have to play better. I thought we played good in stretches. I thought their stretches were longer than ours.
“We have a lot of room to grow. We have 81 games to do it.”
The Hawks trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half. The Mavericks started fast by making nine of their first 12 shots. The Hawks slowly chipped away at the deficit and used an 11-4 second-quarter run to tie the game, 47-47, on a Cartier Martin 3-pointer. The Hawks regained the lead, after Horford opened the scoring with a jumper, with a Millsap basket in the final seconds that made it 55-53 at halftime.
Teague had 13 points and seven assists at intermission.
Budenholzer spent 19 seasons as an assistant in the Spurs organization before assuming control of the Hawks during the offseason.
“From everybody,” Budenholzer said when asked before the game if he received many messages from well-wishers. “No, there have been a few. Everybody is a pretty large exaggeration. We are all excited for the first game and to get the regular season started. We are glad it’s here.”
Lou Williams (right knee rehabilitation) and Gustavo Ayon (right shoulder) were inactive with injuries.
The Hawks host the Raptors in their home opener Friday.