How it happened: The Mavs hopped on backup big man Brendan Haywood’s back.
Yes, you read that right. Haywood, who has mostly struggled since signing a contract that could be worth up to $55 million over six years, more than earned his salary for the evening with his performance in the fourth quarter.
Haywood sparked a 14-1 run at the beginning of the fourth that gave the Mavs the lead for good. He started the quarter with a jump hook and had seven of his 10 points in the final frame. He also grabbed four of his five rebounds and did a fine job of clogging up the paint on the defensive end.
Scoring wasn’t a problem for the Mavs all night. They hit 49.3 percent of their shots from the floor and had seven players hit double figures for the second consecutive game.
But the Mavs had trouble stopping the Hawks for three quarters, particularly high-scoring swingman Joe Johnson. Atlanta shot 50.8 percent from the floor through the third, with Johnson pumping in 22 points on 11-of-19 shooting. The problem was in the paint, where Atlanta had 46 points -- 20 by Johnson, who seemed to penetrate at will.
Scoring suddenly got hard for the Hawks in the fourth. They made only four of 15 shots from the floor in the final frame.
What it means: The Mavs are rolling again. They’ve won four consecutive games and five of their last six. They have an outstanding opportunity to sweep the four-game homestand. It ends Monday against the Washington Wizards, the only NBA team that is winless on the road this season.
Play of the game: Jason Terry, who had a season-high 11 assists, delivered the sweet feed. Shawn Marion flushed it with authority. Terry had Brendan Haywood on the right wing on a fast break and Marion as the trailer. He went with the no-look dish behind him to Marion, who took one step and threw it down hard with one hand. That stretched the Mavs’ lead to four early in the fourth quarter and got the building buzzing.
Stat of the night: Haywood scored in double figures for the second time all season. He had 10 points in the Halloween win over the Clippers.