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Hawks Crush Mavs: Luka Doncic & Trae Young Each Deliver Messages

“It was a terrible game,” Doncic says. “We couldn’t make nothing. But 81 to go.”

Thursday night began as a marquee matchup. It ended in a mess (for the Dallas Mavericks) and in a message (for both Dallas and the victorious Atlanta Hawks). 

Trae Young’s reaction to the 113-87 win by the home-standing Hawks? It was about how big this game was.

“We were in the Eastern Conference Finals for a reason,” he said on TNT, “and it’s up to us to go out and prove it again.”

And Luka Doncic’s message? It was about how small this game was.

“It was a terrible game,” Doncic said. “We couldn’t make nothing. But 81 to go.”

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Both takes from both young superstars are valid. The Hawks do somehow remain lightly-regarded despite their success … and here they were good enough to win even as the youthful star Young experienced his ups and downs, finishing with 19 points on 6-of-16 shooting, to go along with two triples, two rebounds, 14 assists, and five turnovers in 33 minutes of action.

Unfortunately for Dallas under debuting head coach Jason Kidd (and his lofty mid-range shooting goals), Doncic played even more unevenly. Doncic finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, but shot just 6 of 17. Meanwhile, top helper Kristaps Porzingis totaled 11 points and five rebounds on 4-of-11 shooting from the field.

A “terrible game”? Yes, as we discuss here in our postgame "Mavs Step Back Podcast,'' that’s part of the message from Thursday’s opener for a Mavs team that has much work to do.

But, as Kidd said of the Hawks, “They are a good team. They didn’t make it to the Eastern Conference Finals by accident.”

That’s an important part of Thursday’s message, too.