Mavs bolt to 17-2 start, roll by Hawks

DALLAS (AP) -- After several games with tight finishes, Dallas
Mavericks coach Don Nelson was able to rest his starters in a

Michael Finley scored 26 points and reserve Walt Williams added
15 points as the Mavericks took early control and eased to a 105-79
victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.

The Mavericks won their third straight and improved their
league-best record to 41-12.

Dallas' previous six games had been decided by eight points or
less, and three of those were defeats. The Mavericks were playing
their fifth game in eight nights.

"We've played a lot of games and close games and I think it has
been a mental fatigue as much as anything,'' Nelson said. "Going
from the All-Star break to the road to playing four games in five
days, it kind of wore everyone out.''

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas' top scorer and rebounder, finished with
only 14 points in 28 minutes after six consecutive games of 25
points or more.

Finley went 10-for-19 from the field, including 3-of-4 from
3-point range.

Dallas opened the game with a 17-2 run, hitting seven of its
first eight shots while Atlanta missed its first nine field goal
attempts. The Hawks didn't have a basket over the first 5:52 until
Robinson connected on a short jumper to make it 17-4.

The Hawks were able to narrow the deficit to 28-19 after one
quarter and trailed at halftime, 49-39.

Atlanta was still in the game, and that raised the ire of
Nelson, who asked his players at halftime to raise their intensity
level a notch.

"If anything, we were taking the game too lightly, especially
when we got up 17-2,'' Finley said. "But then we were able to pick
it up in the second half.''

Of Dallas' starters and key reserves, Finley was the minutes
leader with 30 as Nelson made extensive use of his bench in the
second half.

"Tonight the bench took the challenge and came up big for us,''
Williams said. "We take a lot of pride and try to stay competitive
and get some consistency.''

Shareef Abdur-Rahim's 14 points and Glenn Robinson's 13 paced
the Hawks, who have lost five of their last six.

As Thursday's trading deadline approaches, several Hawks have
been the subject of trade rumors.

"Players are used to being talked about so I'm not sure how
much that it bothers them,'' Hawks coach Terry Stotts said. "I
think they expect it this time of year.''

Atlanta, which went 25-for-79 from the field for a season-low
31.6 percent, was never able to get closer than eight points in the
second half and trailed by as many as 34 in the third quarter. The
Hawks went 3-for-19 from 3-point range while the Mavericks were
going 9-of-13 on 3-pointers.

The Mavericks finished the third quarter with a 30-12 spurt
capped by six straight points from Shawn Bradley for an 85-57
advantage entering the final quarter.

"They made shots and we missed shots,'' Robinson said. "We
shot the ball bad all night. When you shoot 31 percent, you can't
win against no one.''

Game notes
Dallas C Evan Eschmeyer got his third start of the season.
... The Hawks have lost nine in a row to the Mavericks. ... Dallas
had 27 points off 18 Atlanta turnovers, the Mavericks' most points
off turnovers this season. ... Bradley paced the team with a
season-high four assists and scored 10 points. ... Dallas was
guilty of 18 turnovers, its second most this season. ... The
Mavericks never trailed for the ninth time this season.

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