Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Atlanta Hawks 105 at Dallas Mavericks 101 - February 11, 2013


I'm back in Texas! After a 20-hour journey from Tokyo to Dallas, I took public transit downtown to avoid the outrageous rental car fees at the airport. This added another 90 minutes to the trip but the savings were well worth it. I rented the car (a nice Nissan Sentra) and after a brief stop at my hotel to freshen up, quickly made my way to the American Airlines Center to see the Dallas Mavericks host the Atlanta Hawks.


American Airlines Center


I visited the AAC to see the Leafs win in a shootout back in November 2011. This time, I was here to review the Mavericks fan experience for Stadium Journey so rather than repeat myself, I'm going to instead link to my review when it is published.

The one thing I will note here is that American Airlines recently updated their logo and livery, but this has yet to be reflected at the stadium. They will be doing so during the offseason, so it will be interesting to see what changes that will entail. Guess I'll come back next year as well!



The Game

It seemed like the Mavericks were the jet lagged ones as they were terrible to start, spotting Atlanta a quick 10-0 lead before O.J. Mayo scored at the 8:27 mark to break the goose egg. That got Dallas going a bit and they matched the Hawks the rest of the quarter, closing the first down 31-23.

The second period saw Dallas knock down 4 of 9 from 3-point land, including two from Vince Carter, as they came within a point as the buzzer sounded, down just 49-48. After such a dismal start, it was nice to see that we had a game and the fans responded, making a lot of noise as the deficit was slowly reduced.



The third quarter was a barnburner, with each team scoring 33 points. Dallas tied the game at 64 but could not take the lead as their defense failed them whenever they needed a stop and Atlanta added 5 treys of their own, including a couple from Josh Smith who had 10 points in the period.

So we began the fourth quarter with Dallas still down just one but after a Carter free-throw and a Jae Crowder jumper, they had their first lead of the game 86-84. They expanded this to 91-86, but Smith (number 5 in the shot below) sandwiched a slam dunk and another three around a Carter turnover and we were tied with under 6 minutes left. As some sorry fans started leaving to beat traffic, the game became a gritty defensive battle. Tied at 92, Smith was fouled with 2:55 to go and promptly missed both free throws. But the rebound came to Kyle Korver which was the key play of the game. Al Horford scored on that possession and after Dirk Nowitzki missed an open 3, Horford added a slam dunk to make it 96-92 Hawks. After Mayo responded with a running slam to get the fans into it, Smith sank yet another three and it was 99-94 with 1:29 left.



Nowitzki (41 above) managed to singlehandedly get the Mavs back within one with a couple of free throws and a jumper and those fans who left early were looking pretty silly. When Smith turned it over on the subsequent possession, the Mavs moved down the court for a chance to take the lead.



Sadly, it was not to be as Mayo threw the ball away (above), and Smith sank two free throws after being fouled to make it 101-98. The Mavs took their final timeout, but the following possession again saw Mayo turn the ball over with a bad pass and Atlanta held on for a 105-101 win. Smith was the dominant player with 26 points, 13 boards, and 6 assists. He is on the trading block apparently, so this game should help his stock.


Not a bad game after the terrible start but it is clear the Mavericks (22-29) lack the clutch players they needed today, perhaps demonstrated by their 1-8 overtime record.

Notes

Why do fans take the trouble to go to a game and then leave before the outcome is decided? As noted, with over 5 minutes left and the score knotted at 91, dozens of fans started heading for the exits. That is giving up 10% of the game, in fact, the most important 10%. Yet again, sports fans are shown to be poor consumers.

During the break between the first and second quarters, there was a shooting contest whereby the contestant has to make a free throw, a 3-pointer, and a halfcourt shot. He got the first two, but missed the last one only to be given a second chance. Amazingly he nailed it and that got the loudest reaction of the night as well as making ESPN's top 10 plays.

Traveling in the winter is always a risk, but today was perfect. Both flights were early (I transferred at Minneapolis) and I was able to catch the bus and train I needed to beat the closing time of the rental agency. Avoiding an airport rental saved nearly $200 over the 2-week period I'll have the car. I've said it before, but if you are renting a car at an airport for an extended period and are budget conscious, look for in-city options, they are usually much cheaper.



As mentioned, I was here reviewing the venue for Stadium Journey and the Mavericks were kind enough to extend a media credential. I spend the first while up in the press box and it is interesting to see the game from so far away as you can see the plays each team is running. But it separates you from the atmosphere, so midway through the second quarter, I moved down to the lower bowl to watch the rest of the game.

After the game, I went to the bowels of the stadium to watch Atlanta coach Larry Drew give a press conference in front of a small scrum as a way to wait out the traffic. Always fascinating to be behind the scenes, although judging from the looks on many of the assembled media, it probably becomes quite boring after a while.

Next Up

I'm already in Memphis to see the Grizzlies and soon-to-move Sacramento Kings. I saw the Vancouver Grizzlies' first ever game back in 1995 but this will be my first trip to see them in their new home. It is a bittersweet trip, check back tomorrow to see if any tears were shed.

Best,

Sean
 

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