Originally created 02/06/01

Mavericks 91, Hawks 81



ATLANTA -- Michael Finley was disgusted with the Dallas Mavericks' poor effort in the first half.

So the All-Star forward gave his teammates a piece of his mind at halftime.

"He's our leader, our captain," Howard Eisley said. "He ripped into us pretty good. What can I say? It worked."

Eisley and Dirk Nowitzki each scored 22 points as Dallas stormed back from a 19-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Hawks 91-81 on Monday night.

Nowitzki scored 12 third-quarter points on 6-for-6 shooting to lead the Mavericks to their third straight victory and seventh in nine games.

"Mike took over," Nowitzki said. "He told us we needed to start playing hard and defending. We knew we couldn't leave this building with a loss."

Eisley gave Dallas the lead for good with a 3-pointer that made it 68-66 with 31.6 seconds left in the third quarter.

Dallas trailed by as many as 19 with 2:22 left in the second quarter after the Dikembe Mutombo blocked Shawn Bradley's attempted dunk and Brevin Knight hit a pair of free throws and a 16-foot jumper to make it 48-29.

"We didn't come with the intensity that we needed," said Finley, who scored 15 points. "You can take a team like them for granted. They're a good, quality team, but not as good as us."

Jason Terry led the Hawks with 21 points as Atlanta lost its fourth straight to the Mavericks. The Hawks have dropped three straight overall and nine of 11. Mutombo had 21 rebounds.

Atlanta blew a 10-point lead Saturday and lost 96-84 at Orlando.

"It's tough," Terry said. "I've never been in a situation like this. We're a well-conditioned team. We just don't execute in the half-court. It's very discouraging. This is getting to be a habit, and we know how hard it was to break the habit (last month)."

Dallas played its second straight game without point guard Steve Nash, who is day to day with a sore left hamstring. Acting coach Donn Nelson again moved Eisley from shooting guard to point guard, Finley from forward to shooting guard and started Gary Trent at forward.

"These guys are putting more gray hairs on my head," Nelson said. "We're capable of losing to any team in the league, and we're capable of beating any team in the league. We cannot afford to bring our B or C game, otherwise we'll go through halves like that. (In) the second half, we decided to play some defense and guard people."

Notes:

Nash is unlikely to play when Dallas visits the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. ... Atlanta was without F Lorenzen Wright, who had the flu. Alan Henderson, starting his first game since Dec. 15, took his place but failed to score after getting 12 points in the first half. ... The Mavericks improved to 16-5 against the Eastern Conference. ... Hawks G Matt Maloney, activated from the injured list before the game, did not play.