Dallas, Atlanta
Photo by Loren Page/The Ball Out

Dallas, TX — The buzz around the NBA is that there are two early rookies of the year candidates vying it out: Luka Doncic of Dallas and Trae Young of Atlanta. Their showdown tonight in Dallas produced instant highlight reels that exhibit how both young stars are becoming staples for their respective franchises.

Both Doncic and Young ended the night with 24 points apiece.However, Young managed 10 assists compared to Doncic’s six. While those numbers might speak to Young’s ball movement skills in comparison to Doncic, Dallas’ rookie displayed his spatial awareness to lob the ball to DeAndre Jordan for a dunk and by swinging the ball out to Harrison Barnes to hit a three-pointer.

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In one jaw-dropping play in the third quarter, Doncic blocked one of Young’s jumpers that sent the crowd into a tailspin.

Although both stars added to the narrative, it would be both benches that would rally to keep the game tied 10 different times and create 16lead changes.

Outside of its bench, the Hawks’ Kent Bazemore and John Collins, also added a wrinkle to the Mavericks usual offensive movement. Their keen eye to contest three-point shots and put bodies in the paint helped create12 turnovers by the end of the third quarter when they trailed by three, 81-78.

Despite Atlanta’s tough man to man defense, Barnes was the most efficient on the court scoring 25 points followed by J.J Barea’s 18points.  Barnes has been on fire from deep as he connected on five triples tonight in Dallas’ win.

As the clock started to tick down late in the fourth, it was the defense from Maxi Kleber that ignited the Mavericks. He blocked three shots late in the game and Wes Matthews relentless pursuit of the ball to force a turnover led to a Dorian Finney-Smith three.

In the end, the back-and-forth battle ended in favor of Dallas, 114-107. The win also gave the Mavericks its 11th-straighthome victory this season.

Wednesday night’s game was an extremely physical contest for Dallas to push through. In fact, Atlanta’s physicality sent Doncic to the line15 times where he knocked down 12 of those attempts. Even more so, as a team,the Mavericks went 32-for-43 from the charity stripe whereas the Hawks went10-for-14.

Tensions ran high throughout the entire game but especially when Dallas’ head coach Rick Carlisle was ejected after receiving his second technical for arguing with the referees on a no-call in the third period.

“… His energy got them going and I tried to continue that energy with the group,” shared Stephen Silas, the Mavericks assistant coach, on how Dallas played after the ejection. “They did a really good job after Rick got thrown out of the game. They hung on and were great…”

All-in-all, seven technicals were assessed in the game as the Mavericks were called for four while Atlanta had three on its team.

With momentum on its side, Dallas will now hit the road against the Phoenix Suns tomorrow night. However, the Mavericks could be without Barea who injured his ankle in tonight’s win. The team is still without veteran all-star Dirk Nowitzki who is still questionable on his return, as well as, Dennis Smith Jr. who has a lingering injury.

Atlanta will return to the court on Friday against the Boston Celtics. Young discussed after the game that while his team “compete,”there are some things to get cleaned up before the next game.

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