Originally created 03/20/00

Hawks still unable to escape slump



ATLANTA -- Although Isaiah Rider was no longer around, nothing much changed for the Atlanta Hawks.

Michael Finley scored 20 of his 31 points in the first quarter and the Dallas Mavericks held the slumping Hawks scoreless the final 3:50 for an 89-85 victory Sunday night.

Atlanta, playing its first game since top scorer Rider was waived, has lost 11 of its last 13, including four in a row.

"It's real frustrating, especially when you get good shots," said Jim Jackson, who scored the Hawks' final basket but had a critical turnover with 1:36 remaining and missed a tying 3-pointer with 13 seconds to go. "If we were forcing shots, that's one thing. But to get wide open looks and miss, that's tough."

The Hawks insisted Rider's departure had no impact.

"If it did, it should have had a positive impact," rookie Jason Terry said. "Our energy level has been like this all year long. It's tough to get going early. That's what coach (Lenny Wilkens) says we need to do to win some of these games."

Dallas won for the fourth time in five games when the Hawks missed their final eight shots.

"I think we've got more confidence on the defensive end. And more trust," Erick Strickland said. "The key to defense is trust. If we continue doing that and take it over to next season, we're going to win big next year."

The Mavericks were outrebounded by a staggering 64-45, but the league's top 3-point shooting team hit 7-of-17 outside the arc. Dallas also had just three turnovers.

"With lack of an inside game, we're vulnerable on any occasion," coach Don Nelson said. "Yet we can beat anybody when we have our outside going and we have our fast break going."