The Washington Wizards had to earn the win over the visiting Dallas Mavericks. Despite getting throttled in Brooklyn earlier this week, the Mavs had been enjoying success over the Wizards. They had one the five previous matchups, but the Wizards were able to take care of business late, courtesy of back-to-back triples from Jeff Green that gave them separation late. Six players scored in double figures for Washington, including the entire starting five en route to the 132-123 victory last night.
Bradley Beal (pictured above) led the way with 30 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Tomas Satoransky was just two rebounds shy of a triple double, while Jeff Green and Trevor Ariza made timely shots in the second half. Brad had a highlight dunk in the first quarter over the 7'2 Salah Merji that got the crowd into it early.
Dallas was led by their super rookie Luka Doncic. He had 31 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. His performance in the third quarter was outstanding as he was able to seize the tempo of the game and bring his team back from a 10 point deficit. Like Washington, the Mavericks also had six players score in double figures. Dwight Powell had 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the floor.
The Mavericks came into the game turning the ball over 15 times per contest, last night they turned it over just seven times. More impressive was the 11 assist, no turnover first quarter that saw them take a 43-33 lead.
Washington dominated the second quarter to climb back into the game, even taking a four point lead into the half. Beal and Ariza scored nine and eight points respectively in the quarter, but it was Jabari Parker that really set the tone that period. He decided quite early that the Mavs didn't have an answer for guarding him and went about punishing defenders in multiple ways. Similar to Beal in the first quarter, Parker had a couple big dunks during that second quarter push.
Doncic showed why he's not your typical rookie in the third quarter. Washington was able to get out and run a bit in the second quarter, that's not exactly something Dallas likes doing. Washington pushed their lead to 10 early in the period, but the rookie never let the lead grow more than that. He seized control of the tempo and manipulated the Wizards defense into giving him whatever he wanted. No one could contain him off the dribble, so he was able to get into the lane and find teammates beyond the arc.
The Mavericks shot 45% from deep during the period, they also went to the line 12 times. Their ability to get to the line helped them slow the game down, the Wizards couldn't get stops and out into the open court. Portis came alive a bit and Beal scored another eight points to ensure that Washington didn't lose their lead completely.
There were six lead changes in the fourth, but Washington was able to grind out the win. Every win is important for the Wizards as they try to reach their goal of making the playoffs, Charlotte lost last night which helps. But that also means Friday's game in Charlotte has that much more importance.
Beal. Brad had a very efficient night, knocking down 11-of-19 shots. He scored at least eight points in all but one quarter against Dallas. The three ball didn't fall as much, but he took what the defense gave him. Getting to the line eight times and hitting some midrange jumpers.
Doncic. First time seeing him live this season and walked away thoroughly impressed. He's as advertised and is a pro, as expected when you accomplish what he did in EuroLeague last season. He plays at his own pace, has a good feel for the game and is going to be quite a problem along side a healthy Porzingis.
Defense. This has been the barometer for the Wizards season, when they're engaged on that end they're able to get wins. They allowed Dallas to shoot 69.6% in the first quarter, then turned around and held them to 34% in the second. It's never about scoring, they have that in bunches as Rick Carlisle called them an "elite offensive team" following the game. This quest to make the playoffs lies on that end of the floor.
Parker. He just gives Washington a different dimension. Teams don't typically have a player that can match up with him defensively. He's too strong for smaller forwards and to quick for those bigger. Once he gets downhill, defenders are at his mercy. He was pivotal in that second quarter run, several times he directed teammates to clear out so he could work. While he needs to improve defensively, he played all 12 minutes in the fourth alongside Jeff Green in a small-ball lineup. That meant the Wizards had two players who could set picks, rebound, stretch the floor and attack off the bounce at the four-and-five.