DALLAS (AP) - Jose Barea saw the shot clock running down and a small opening toward the basket.The 6-foot guard drove down the baseline, challenged a pair of much taller defenders and spun in an improbable reverse layup with his left hand that rolled around the rim before finally going in.
It's been that kind of week for Barea.
Barea scored 16 of his season-high 22 points in the third quarter and the Dallas Mavericks held on late after nearly losing a 19-point lead, beating the Atlanta Hawks 100-98 on Saturday night for their ninth win in 10 games.
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"It's just been great just being out there with the guys," Barea said. "Winning has been the most important thing. My confidence gets higher and higher."
Barea, who saw only sporadic playing time before this week, has played a key role in the first three games of a seven-game homestand Dallas' longest of the season.
He hit the winning 3-pointer Tuesday to beat the Los Angeles Clippers and then scored 18 points in his first start of the season two days later, a lopsided victory over Phoenix.
Barea capped a memorable week with his best performance since scoring a career-high 25 points last Nov. 3.
"I'm a believer that anything is possible," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Would I have predicted it? No."
Barea was 7-of-9 from the floor in the third, and Dallas outscored Atlanta 33-16 in the quarter to take a 15-point lead.
Dallas stretched its advantage to 19 early in the fourth before the Hawks, who saw their three-game winning streak end, made it close in the final minute.
Atlanta went on a 24-8 run and cut it to 96-95 on Mike Bibby's 3-pointer with 23 seconds left.
Jason Terry hit a pair of free throws to put Dallas up by three. Johnson missed what would have been the tying 3-pointer with 8 seconds left, Jason Kidd got the rebound and fed Brandon Bass for a dunk with 3.7 seconds left.
"We made plays down the stretch," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "But we had that 16-point third quarter that put us behind. You can't spot this team like that. This team is too good."
Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting and had 10 rebounds. Terry scored 19 points, and Bass had 10 of his 14 points in the fourth to help Dallas win its fourth in a row.
"We got another win," Terry said. "We're disappointed with the way we finished. But we're excited about the way we played for 45 minutes. You've got to take it."
Johnson had 32 points, Bibby added 21 and Zaza Pachulia had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks, who turned the ball over 19 times.
Atlanta led 43-41 at halftime before Barea and the Mavericks responded in the third.
Barea scored eight points in an 11-2 run that put Dallas up 74-59 heading into the final quarter.
The 6-foot Puerto Rican guard opened the fourth with a pair of baskets. One of those was the reverse layup that brought Nowitzki and his teammates up off the bench.
"I thank God that shot went in," Barea said.
Hawks C Al Horford, who injured his ankle Friday against New York, didn't play. Woodson said before the game he thought Horford could play, but the Hawks decided in warmups that he couldn't go. ... Mavericks F Josh Howard (sprained left ankle) was inactive for the eighth straight game. ... Atlanta guard Acie Law, a Dallas native, had two points and two assists.