WASHINGTON – For the Dallas Mavericks, their overall effort Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards was exceedingly better than their effort Monday night against the Brooklyn Nets.
But unfortunately for the Mavs, the final results were the same.
Despite double-doubles by Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell, the Mavs wilted down the stretch and eventually suffered a 132-123 loss to the Wizards before 16,867 fans at the Capital One Arena. With the loss, the Mavs are 27-37 and tied with the Wizards with the identical won-loss record.
After the 39-point loss to the Nets, the Mavs wanted to increase their defensive aggression, add more ball movement, rebound more proficiently, and play with some additional force. While they were able to check some of those boxes, the Mavs’ inability to keep the Wizards off the boards and inability to effectively lower Washington’s shooting percentage ultimately did them in.
“It’s hard to have a perfect defensive game against these guys, but I thought our collective fight in the game was really good compared to the Brooklyn game, so we made a couple of strides there,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ve got to clean up a couple of areas, and a lot of it’s going to be about possession of the ball, low turnovers and good rebounding numbers, and we’re just going to have to play the game really hard and really together.”
The Mavs held a 112-111 lead with 5:28 to go following a rebound dunk by Dwight Powell. But from there, Washington outscored Dallas 21-11, including back-to-back back-breaking 3-pointers by Jeff Green which put the Wizards ahead, 122-115 with 2:35 remaining in the game.
Carlisle said of Green’s two three’s: “They were big for them and not good for us.”
The Mavs started out like they were going to run the Wizards clean out of their own arena. With Doncic scoring 12 points and Justin Jackson coming off the bench to sparkle with 10 points, the Mavs shot a robust 69.6 percent from the field (16 of 23 shots) and led, 43-33, after the first quarter.
That’s the most points the Mavs have scored in the first quarter since Mar. 22, 1992 when they dropped 46 points in the first quarter of a game against Seattle.
But for all of their greatest in the first quarter, the Mavs hit a roadblock in the second quarter when they were outscored, 36-22, and trailed, 69-65, at the half.
“We’ve been in a little bit of a shooting slump as a team, and I’m not surprised to see a few go in, finally,” center Dwight Powell said. “I’m glad to see guys move the ball and share the ball, and offensively we had a great flow tonight.”
Powell sure had a great flow going himself against the Wizards. The fifth-year veteran wound up converting 11-of-12 shots and tallying a career-high 26 points and grabbing 10 boards.
“Listen, this is Powell’s time of year,” Carlisle said. “He’s had great runs this time of the season for the last two or three years, and this is no different.
“Any time you go 11-for-12 from the field in an NBA game you’re playing pretty freaking good.”
Doncic also came up big for the Mavs as he finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Michael Jordan and Alvan Adams are the only rookies to post a similar stat line.
“It was almost impossible to get him off the floor tonight he was playing so well,” Carlisle said of Doncic. “He struck a terrific balance between drives, the outside shot and involving his teammates.
“And he was our leader out there. I love the way he played.”
Carlisle also relished the way Jackson played as he had his finest hour for the Mavs since coming over from Sacramento in a Feb. 6 trade that sent Harrison Barnes to the Kings. Jackson tallied 18 points and was 5-of-7 from 3-point land.
“I think I’m just kind of getting more and more comfortable,” said Jackson, who tied his career-high in 3-pointers made in a game. “When you go from one team to another it takes a little bit of time.
“So I’m just kind of getting more comfortable getting out there with the guys and finding open spots.”
Also for the Mavs, Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points, Jalen Brunson finished with 11 points and eight assists, and Dorian Finney-Smith added 10 points and seven boards.
Meanwhile, the Wizards ended up shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from 3-point range, while the Mavs were 48.4 percent from the floor and 36.6 percent from beyond the 3-poinr arc. Washington also handled the Mavs on the boards, 49-39, and used its 15 offensive rebounds to outscore the Mavs in second-chance points, 27-14.
“They’re an elite offensive team,” Carlisle said. “A lot of our problems came down to rebounds we were unable to secure, and so that’s got to be an emphasis going forward.
“We’re not super big, so we’re going to have to do it by committee and we’re going to have to do it with persistence.”
At least what the Mavs saw against the Wizards was a step in the right direction.
“The effort was way better,” Doncic said. “I think we moved the ball great. We just have to play every game like this.”
NOTES: Another game meant another round of wild celebrations from the fans for forward Dirk Nowitzki. Although Nowitzki didn’t start the game, when he went into the game for the first time with 2:34 left in the first quarter, he received a very loud standing ovation. “It’s emotional and sweet,” Nowitzki said. “Even the announcers, when I come in, are reading off my entire resume so far, here and the last game in Brooklyn (this past Monday). Like I said, it’s very humbling and I’m very appreciative of all the receptions I’ve been getting on the road, but somehow we’ve got to find a way to get a win.” Even late in the game, fans were shouting “We Want Dirk, We Want Dirk.” But Wizards coach Scott Brooks said that was a big mistake. “At the end I think our fans had it all wrong,” Brooks said. “They should have been chanting ‘One more year. One more year.’ We all want to see him one more year. You don’t want him to leave. He’s done so much for the game, and he’s so fun to watch.” Even Emily Haber, the German ambassador to the United States, attended Wednesday’s game. Nowitzki played 12 minutes, was 0-of-3 from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe and finished with two points and two rebounds. . .History will show that the Washington Wizards used the No. 5 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft to select Devin Harris. However, Harris said: “They didn’t draft me. They just picked me. Officially I was drafted by the Mavs. It wasn’t even like I got the phone call from (the Wizards). When the phone rang (at the draft headquarters) it was (Mavs proprietor Mark Cuban) on the phone. I had to put the (Wizards’) hat on and changed it 20 minutes later (to the Mavs’ hat). That was it. The only connection (with the Wizards) was the hat.” On the night of the 2004 draft, the Wizards traded Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and the draft rights to Harris to the Mavs for Antawn Jamison. . .Maxi Kleber missed the game with a left knee effusion. . .The Mavs are 0-2 on this three-game road trip. The final game of the trip is Friday at 6 p.m. against the Orlando Magic before the Mavs return home to host the Houston Rockets n Sunday at 6 p.m.