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Dallas Mavericks Vs. Atlanta Hawks: Mavs 98, Hawks 93, FINAL: Atlanta Can't Get Over The Hump Against Dallas

There are some days in life where no matter what you do, winning the battle is an unsurmountable uphill climb. The Atlanta Hawks had one of those days on Saturday night. Try as they might, they just didn't have enough in the tank to defeat the Dallas Mavericks.

Josh Smith had 21 points and Al Hoford had 20 points and 20 rebounds in the Hawks' 98-93 loss to the Mavs on Saturday night at Philips Arena. Dirk Nowitzki poured in 21 to lead Dallas, which snapped a two-game losing streak.

Atlanta, on the other hand, fell to 3-4 at Philips Arena.

The Hawks, who trailed by as many as 13 with just over five minutes left in the fourth, pushed and pushed and pushed to try to will their way back into this one. Their pesky pecking away at the Mavs lead nearly paid off down the stretch.

Mike Bibby drained a 3-pointer with 36 ticks left to cut the deficit to 94-91 before Jamal Crawford forced a turnover and ran down the court for the uncontested dunk with 15.2 ticks left to cut the lead to one. Former Hawk Jason Terry connected on a pair of free throws with 13.2 left to reestablish a 96-93 lead before the Hawks called time out to draw up the a final 3-point play.

Almost too predictably, the ball was placed in a struggling Joe Johnson's hand. Not once, but twice, Johnson tried to shake off his defender for the uncontested trey. And on a night where persistence nearly paid off, he succeeded the second time, launching an open 3-pointer at the iron.

However, on a night when the Hawks couldn't catch a break, the basketball clinked off of the rim and landed in the hands of a Dallas player, sending Atlanta home a loser for the fourth time in seven home games.

The Hawks wish they could have the second 12 minutes back in this one. Dallas scored 27 of the quarter's 45 points to extend a three-point first quarter lead into a double-digit halftime deficit. It was an uphill battle from there.

Atlanta, which trailed by as many as 18 in the second after Caron Butler's jumper with 2:05 left in the second extended the Mavs edge to 53-35, battled and battled and battled. They just couldn't get onto the right side of the score sheet.

They cut the lead to eight midway through the third on a jumper by Horford, but the Mavericks followed with a 14-4 run to reestablish an 18-point lead before Atlanta whittled it back to nine by the end of the frame. Atlanta moved to within four when Marvin Williams connected on a jumper to make it 79-75 with 10:05 left. However, Dallas once again used another run to reestablish a 13 point lead.

It was another off-shooting night for Johnson, who finished with 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting from the field and had a 3-pointer waived off after video review.

Mike Bibby had 16 points and rookie Jordan Crawford provided the fourth quarter spark with 10 off of the bench for Atlanta, which waited until Jan. 1 to drop its fourth game at home last season.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.