The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Wizards

Final: Mavs 98, Wizards 75

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

The Mavs have now won four straight, 15 out of the last 16, and 30 of the last 38 meetings overall with the Wizards.

The Mavericks have now won 151 consecutive games when leading by at least 17 points after three quarters, per Basketball-Reference, and have a 266-3 record all-time in those situations.

Notebook

  • This wasn’t the prettiest performance on offense we’ve seen from the Mavs lately, which is actually kind of surprising given they’re top-seven in the NBA in offense and effective field goal percentage over the last two months. Dallas shot well below 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the 3-point line, which are two checkpoints the club has found relatively regularly lately. Still, that the Mavs were able to pull out a convincing win despite so-so shot-making tells you all you need to know about how effective the defense was in this game. Anyway, Dennis Smith Jr. received plenty of attention from the Wizards defense, with Washington often switching longer players onto him and making it tough for him to get into the paint. But when he was able to, he made some nice plays, like this one off a catch, when he double-clutched in the air for a layup.

    And this pass to Harrison Barnes spotting up in the corner was very nice.

    The thing those plays have in common is Smith was attacking the basket hard off the catch, not as the primary initiator within the offense. As the season has worn on, he’s become better at playing off the ball, finding ways to influence the offense when he’s not the guy responsible for setting everybody up. The Mavs want to have multiple ball-handlers on the floor at all times, so that’s going to prove to be a very valuable skill for Smith as time goes on.

  • He dunked, too.


    What’s Next

    The Mavs (16-31) will play the Houston Rockets (32-12) on Wednesday at American Airlines Center at 7 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Wizards

    Final: Mavs 113, Wizards 99

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavericks scored 36 points in the first quarter, the club’s highest-scoring opening frame since Dallas dropped 38 on the Lakers on March 7, 2017. You’ll probably remember that night as the one when Dirk Nowitzki joined the 30,000-point club. The Big German had 18 points in the first that night. This time around it wasn’t only Dirk doing all the heavy lifting, though, which was good to see. Dennis Smith Jr. got off to a monster start and that seemed to propel the rest of the team forward.

    Dallas has now won nine straight games on the road against the Wizards. It’s the team’s longest active road winning streak against any opponent.

    Salah Mejri has now blocked 12 shots in his last four games, including four swats in the second half. He finished with 10 points, 12 boards, and five blocks off the bench. It’s the second time he’s had a 10/10/5 game as a sub, and the only other Mavs in franchise history to have one of those games are Shawn Bradley and Roy Tarpley.

    Dallas was +14 on the glass tonight, the club’s highest rebounding differential since Jan. 22, 2017, when the Mavs were +17 against the L.A. Lakers.

    Notebook

  • This was the Mavs’ most inspired performance of the season. They dove on the floor, chased down loose balls, attacked the offensive glass, and ran, ran, and ran some more. They simply played harder than the Wizards, which is dangerous in combination with good shot-making. The Mavericks never trailed and, outside of a shaky start to the fourth quarter, the game was never really all that close. Dallas was in control all night, which has a lot to do with the play of Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. When those two are going like they were tonight, the Mavs are gonna be a tough out no matter who they’re playing. There’s your 1-2 punch for hopefully many years to come.

  • Dennis Smith Jr. is already good, but he’s starting to flash some special, special potential. The 19-year-old had an incredible stat line tonight: 22 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds. The only two other Mavericks to reach that stat line in the last 10 years are Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. Smith was unbelievable, showing the ability to get to the rim at will — even against a long, super-fast defender like John Wall — while mixing in a nice floor game and court vision. Sometimes Smith is still guilty of pressing a bit and forcing some shots, but you expect rookies to do those things. You don’t expect a rookie to be able to do stuff like this, though.

    And he still does this stuff, which is cool.


  • Harrison Barnes has found his groove in recent games. Barnes got off to a pretty rough start from the field this season, but he’s more than made up for it. In his last six games before this one he’s averaged 18.3 points and 6.0 rebounds on 49.4/39.3 shooting splits, and tonight he poured in a season-high 31 on 11-of-18 shooting, in addition going 7 of 8 from the free throw line. It’s no secret that a huge part of his success lately has come from attacking the basket relentlessly, especially against switched guards. As long as he can keep attacking, he’s going to have no problem shooting a high percentage because he’s become such a good finisher.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (2-10) will play the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-6) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Wizards

    Final: Mavs 112, Wizards 107

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavs assisted on 13 of their 20 made field goals in the first half, with 10 of those dimes coming from J.J. Barea. That represented a big step forward for Dallas, who’d been averaging just 18.0 assists per game through the last three games. Before this one, Rick Carlisle said the offense needed more ball movement, and we saw that tonight in the opening act. As a team, the Mavericks scored 1.178 points per possession in the first two quarters.

    The Wizards had lost at home only three times since Dec. 6 heading into this one, and they carried an 18-0 record on their own floor when leading after three quarters. They’ve been very, very difficult to beat at the Verizon Center this season.

    Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks with 19 rim attacks, counting drives and and cuts. He’s been extremely aggressive going to the basket in recent games, which is good to see, although tonight he somehow shot zero free throws until he took an intentional foul with the game basically decided.

    The Mavericks have now won 13 out of 14 against the Wizards.

    Notebook

  • If you didn’t know who Nico Brussino was before tonight, you do now. The 24-year-old was amazing tonight, and no that’s not an understatement. He was incredible, finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds, and two steals in what was easily the best game of his career. Even Dirk Nowitzki got caught up in the moment, and who could blame him?

    It’s surprising to see a player of Nowitzki’s status pass up an open shot, especially on a night when he surpassed the 20-point mark, but the Big German made the right play and Brussino was able to deliver. The Argentinian hasn’t had many chances to play important minutes this season, but he found an opportunity because of Wesley Matthews’ injury and he took advantage of the moment. Just an awesome night for yet another young Maverick, and it led to one of the more unlikely wins of the season for this team, albeit in too-close-for-comfort fashion.

  • J.J. Barea has worked his way back into the swing of things since returning to action against Brooklyn. You could tell in his first couple games that he may have been a tad out of rhythm, which is understandable considering he’d missed so much time. But he looked pretty comfortable two nights ago against the Raptors, and incredibly so tonight. Barea checked into the game less than four minutes in and completely changed the feel of the first quarter. He ultimately finished with a season-high 13 assists. It was around this time last season that he messed around and won Western Conference Player of the Week. The Mavs could certainly use that same type of impact as they pursue the eighth playoff spot.

  • After shooting just 3 of 16 combined from the field in his previous two outings, Seth Curry bounced back tonight, scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki are the two players on this roster relied on more than any others to generate points in bunches on a nightly basis, but Curry has quickly established himself as a very solid scoring guard in his role. If nothing else, his 3-point shooting is an extremely important element to this team’s offense, as it helps to space the floor for all the underneath stuff Dirk and Barnes do. Teams have been focusing more on him as he’s lit up the league for the last couple months, which has certainly altered the types of looks he’s been getting. Curry and the Mavs will need to make the necessary adjustments, and tonight appeared to be a step in the right direction.

  • Nerlens Noel made his return to action tonight after missing the last three games with left knee soreness. It’s pretty clear why his return is a positive; he’s one of the better centers in the league, and probably the best center who comes off the bench. He makes an impact at both ends of the floor that not many other players at his position can replicate. Wesley Matthews, meanwhile, missed the game with a calf strain he suffered in Toronto. He was considered a game-time decision earlier today, so perhaps he can get back into the mix Friday in Philadelphia. In injury news for Washington, meanwhile, John Wall suffered a sprained left foot just before halftime, and he stayed on the ground for some time after the injury. It looked pretty bad. But he returned in the second half and, though he may not have had the same burst he does when healthy, he was still very effective.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (29-38) will play the Philadelphia 76ers (24-43) on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center at 6 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Wizards

    Final: Mavs 113, Wizards 105

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavs shot only 43.5 percent from the field in the second quarter, but 12 free throw attempts kept the offense producing points. Dallas is one of the bottom teams in the league when it comes to creating trips to the line, but Harrison Barnes has been getting better at drawing fouls, and the rest of the Mavs in this one were aggressive attacking the basket, too. The Mavericks scored 1.1 points per possession in the frame. If you do that every quarter, you’re in good shape.

    Harrison Barnes tied his career-high with five assists. That might not seem like too impressive a number, but it’s important to remember, as always, that Barnes was playing such a minor role for the Warriors in his first four seasons so he never really had the ball in his hands in a position to make plays for his teammates. Meanwhile in Dallas, Barnes hasn’t yet been much of a facilitator, either, especially when playing in isolation. But tonight Barnes was looking to move the ball to spot-up guys all night long, and he did it with nice efficiency, too, turning the ball over only twice.

    Notebook

  • The Mavs have said the young guys must be more consistent, and they’re right. But tonight we saw the young guys produce. Harrison Barnes had his 19th 20-point game as a Maverick, Seth Curry was huge off the bench, and Dorian Finney-Smith started over Andrew Bogut. Dallas has a much friendlier schedule to begin 2017 than it faced in 2016, both in terms of travel and quality of opponent. The club knows it must take advantage of that fact now if it has any chance of making the playoffs, and tonight was the first step in that journey.

  • Devin Harris had what was easily his best game of the season, and one of his best since rejoining the Mavericks, frankly. The guard finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including hitting four of his seven 3-point attempts. He dazzled to end the first quarter, hitting a 3-pointer and long 2-pointer in about 30 seconds to end the quarter strong for Dallas. So much of what Harris does for this team can go unappreciated or unnoticed at times because his numbers are rarely ever gaudy, but he brings such a dynamic presence on both ends when he’s in the game. He’s the speediest Maverick and he can wreak havoc defensively by playing passing lanes and taking charges. It’s good to see him have such a big game.

  • In addition to Harris, the rest of the Mavs’ bench was productive, as well. Seth Curry scored 16 points and Dwight Powell added eight, while Andrew Bogut — coming off the bench for the first time as a Maverick — brought his usual brand of defense and rebounding into the mix. A lot has been changing constantly all season long for the Mavericks, but if the bench can continue to produce at this kind of level, or anywhere near it, the Mavs are going to be in solid shape moving forward in January.

  • John Wall is a stunning talent. The Wizards point guard almost singlehandedly launched a 20-3 blitz to end the first half, even scoring the team’s final 13 points himself. In the process, he also forced three Deron Williams turnovers in a minute. Wall is possibly the fastest player in the NBA, and he reaches his top speed in one step. On the final play of the third quarter, he took an inbound pass at midcourt and got all the way to the rim for a layup in less than four seconds, driving past at least three Mavericks in the process. It really is something to watch him play in-person.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (11-24) play the Phoenix Suns (10-24) on Wednesday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Wizards

    Final: Wizards 114, Mavs 111

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavs got off to a very strong start in the first quarter, scoring 1.217 points per possession in the opening frame. But the Wizards held serve themselves, hitting 63.2 percent in the first and 55.0 percent during the entire first half. It’s tough to beat a team that starts so hot, even though Dallas defended many of those shots very well.

    Raymond Felton messed around and got a triple-double. He finished with 10 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, becoming the first Maverick to do so since Jason Kidd on March 1, 2011. The last non-Kidd triple-double was by Dirk Nowitzki on March 29, 2010.

    Notebook

  • The Mavericks staged a furious rally in the closing seconds of the game to get to within three points, 112-109, with 32.4 seconds on the clock. The Mavs trailed by 18 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and Washington stretched the lead to as high as 21. After a stop, Dallas brought it to within 112-111 after J.J. Barea was fouled in transition with 4.4 seconds left.

  • Wesley Matthews had another productive shooting night from deep against the Wizards. After sinking a career-high 10 treys last weekend in Washington, Matthews knocked down 6 of 11 attempts in this one. When he’s hitting, it does change the dynamic of how teams defend the Mavericks, especially those who like playing small. It becomes more difficult to double-team Dirk Nowitzki in those situations because the defense can’t rotate in time to contest his shots. No matter the result of a game, it’s always a good sign to see Matthews’ shots falling.

  • Williams didn’t play in the game due to a stomach ailment and his presence was missed. The point guard has such good command of the offense and can almost always get Dallas into a good set on offense. Felton got the start at point guard, and while he dished out a team-high 7 assists, he’s performed even better in the 2-guard spot next to Williams. D-Will’s absence prevented the Mavs from rolling out the Williams/Felton/Matthews/Dirk Nowitzki/Zaza Pachulia lineup, which is still the best in basketball among high-usage groups.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (13-11) play the Phoenix Suns (10-14) Monday at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Wizards

    Mavericks vs. Wizards

    Wes Matthews records 36 points, Raymond Felton adds a double-double as the Mavericks defeat the Wizards.

    Final: Mavs 116, Wizards 104

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    After turning it over 11 times in the first half, Dallas gave it away just 5 times after the break. Don’t think for one second that it didn’t influence the result of this one.

    The Wizards want to get the ball in the paint as often as possible, especially with John Wall heading the attack. The blazing point guard was able to do so drive it in there all night long, many times off of Mavs misses or turnovers. The Wizards scored 1.30 points per possession when they got the ball into the paint, versus just 0.84 when they could not.

    Dallas was firing on all cylinders in the third quarter of this one. The Mavs scored 1.455 points per possession in the frame, a positively sizzling rate. That means that, on average, Dallas scored a bucket basically three out of every four times down the floor.

    Notebook

  • Wesley Matthews was outrageously hot tonight. His 10 made three-pointers is a personal career-best and tied the franchise record. Better yet, with Matthews sizzling, he erased Wizards double-team attempts against Nowitzki as he posted up on the low block and along the baseline. Time and time again they’d send Matthews’ defender flying toward the German, and the ball would eventually find Matthews wide-open from beyond the arc. Once the Wizards committed to defending Dirk with one man, the German then went to work, immediately hitting a fadeaway. Matthews ended up with 36 points, matching his career-high.

  • Washington played with an unbelievably small lineup all night long, which resulted in the game being played at an unbelievably quick pace. The Wizards blitzed passing lanes and played scrappy, leading to chances in transition the other way. Dallas turned it over 11 times in the first half, a huge number given the club had turned it over fewer than 14 times per game heading into this one. When a team plays with guys like Chris Dudley or DeJuan Blair at center, it turns the offense into the NCAA football equivalent of the Oregon Ducks system. With John Wall at the helm, the Wizards were able to spread the Mavericks out and attack the defense with speed, energy, and aggression. There are drawbacks to playing small, too, such as giving up plenty of size in the post and on the boards.

  • Jeremy Evans saw minutes at center in this game. According to Basketball-Reference, it was the first time he was the man in the middle this season, having played 53 percent of his minutes at small forward and 47 percent at power forward. He threw down a dunk and very nearly corralled in a high lob pass for an alley-oop within the first minute after taking the floor. With JaVale McGee and Chandler Parsons sitting out on one game every back-to-back, there are minutes to be had for Evans at center against smaller teams, especially now that Dwight Powell is primarily playing power forward. The lanky Evans has the height and hops to get vertical and open up the lob option on every single pick-and-roll. That extra space and freedom could benefit the Mavs’ guards. Evans finished with 3 big offensive rebounds for the Mavs to extend possessions and he even hit a three (!), so I wonder when we’ll see him get another crack at playing the position in the future.

  • There aren’t many players in the NBA faster than John Wall. The key to stopping him — or at least limiting him — is to keep him out of the paint. But that’s especially difficult to do in transition, when Wall can accelerate up the floor at a superhuman pace. That’s part of the reason Washington wants to play so aggressive on defense, so the Wizards can generate fast break chances for the speedy Wall. Dallas did well to limit his driving after halftime. He left the game injured with just over a minute left in the game, which is something you never want to see. Hopefully he’ll be alright when the Wizards come to town on Saturday.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (12-9) play the New York Knicks (10-11) Monday at Madison Square Garden. Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. Central.

  • What To Watch For: Mavs vs. Wizards

    Shootaround: Tyson Chandler

    Mavs C Tyson Chandler says his back is feeling better and that he plans on suiting up tonight against the Wizards.

    After grabbing an all-important home win against a Western Conference playoff contender, the Mavs are back and full strength for what’s going to be an equally difficult game. At 22-8, the Washington Wizards are tied with the fourth-best record in the NBA. This is a legit bunch.

    However, for as much grief as the Mavs were receiving early in the season for struggling against teams with winning records, the Wizards have experienced the same difficulties without garnering equal criticism. Washington is 6-6 against teams with .500 or better records while the Mavs are 8-8. Only one current playoff team — the Phoenix Suns — has played fewer games against .500 or better opponents than the Wiz. Still, both of these clubs take care of business against below-.500 teams, with just four losses between them in 34 tries.

    Say what you will about teams having to “earn” respect by beating good teams, but it’s pretty tough to argue with these clubs’ records. Washington and Dallas are two of the best, hottest teams in the league right now, and the court is going to be full of stars: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene, and Marcin Gortat vs. the Mavs’ vaunted starting five? Yeah, I’m in.

    OFFENSE
    Mavs Offense Wizards Defense
    Points/100 poss. 112.1 (2) 99.2 (4)
    eFG% 53.2 (3) 48.0 (6)
    TOV% 12.7 (T-4) 15.7 (11)
    Off/Def Reb% 25.8 (14) 76.7 (6)
    FT/FGA .271 (18) .310 (23)

    Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler both went through shootaround this morning and expect to play tonight. That’s a huge lift for Dallas, as the Mavs will need all the firepower they can muster for this game.

    Dallas and Washington squared off once already this season, in mid-November. It’s tough to draw too much from that contest, though, because Jameer Nelson was the starting point guard and the Mavs were also without Devin Harris off the bench. Meanwhile, it was Bradley Beal’s season debut for the Wizards, as he’d missed the first chunk of the season due to injury. Rajon Rondo’s presence alone in the starting lineup gives enough reason to be optimistic that Dallas can sweep the season series against Washington. Wall is a very good defender at the point guard spot and limited Nelson to 2-of-12 shooting the first time these clubs met. Rondo, however, has proven he already has what it takes to run the Dallas offense.

    It doesn’t hurt to have a streaking Dirk Nowitzki, either. Dirk was on fire the other night against Oklahoma City, tying his season-high in scoring with 30 points. He’s now just 57 points behind Moses Malone for seventh place on the all-time career scoring list. It’ll take a historic performance for him to pass Moses tonight, but we will likely see him pass Robert Parish for 15th on the all-time field goals made list; Nowitzki only needs three buckets to move up.

    Chandler Parsons was also scorching against the Thunder, scoring 26 points in the victory. He scored 15 in the first frame against OKC. He’ll be checked by Paul Pierce tonight, who held Parsons to just 4-of-12 shooting the first time these clubs met. That was before Parsons seemed to find his groove within the offense, however. The Mavs small forward has a huge quickness and speed advantage over the older but crafty Pierce. That’s a matchup to watch: Will Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle run more offense than usual through Parsons to play to that mismatch or will Dallas run its usual offense?

    The Wizards played last night in Houston, and while Wall and Beal are both very young players, it’s difficult for guys at any age to play heavy minutes two nights in a row. Those two each played 37 minutes last night, while Gortat played 32, Nene played 27, and Paul Pierce played 30. The Mavs have been playing at a blistering pace since acquiring Rondo via trade, and meanwhile the Wizards play at a league-average pace. Dallas is comfortable pushing the tempo, and that could be a key to victory against a team with tired legs, young as their stars might be.

    DEFENSE
    Mavs Defense Wizards Offense
    Points/100 poss. 104.8 (20) 104.4 (14)
    eFG% 51.0 (22) 50.9 (11)
    TOV% 17.0 (T-2) 14.9 (T-12)
    Off/Def Reb% 71.2 (29) 25.4 (T-15)
    FT/FGA .276 (13) .263 (T-21)

    The first step to slowing Washington down is containing Wall, a task that’s proven to be nearly impossible for most teams this season. Wall averages 17.6 points and 10.4 assists per game in 2014-15 — however, those numbers dip to 13.9 points and 10.0 assists in Washington losses. In the November meeting, Wall shot just 5-of-17 from the field and scored only 11 points.

    Forcing him into a repeat performance will be easier with Rondo at point guard. His defense down the stretch Sunday night against OKC played a huge role in the victory. He’s going to need to replicate that performance this evening, although his job will be slightly easier playing in front of Tyson Chandler. Washington runs a ton of pick-and-rolls with either Nene or Gortat setting hard screens to get Wall in space. It puts a huge amount of pressure on big men, so Nowitzki and Chandler will need to be on top of things tonight. Rondo went over most of the screens against OKC instead of going under, so I’m curious to see if that will once again be the case this evening. With Chandler back in the middle, it’d make sense for that to be the case once again, as he has the quickness and contest skills to bother Wall if he chooses to drive. At the end of the day, though, Carlisle knows his guys better than we do, so ultimately it’s his call.

    Shootaround: Rick Carlisle

    Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle weighs in on the keys to victory against the Wizards tonight, similarities between Rajon Rondo and John Wall and more.

    As Washington is on the second leg of a back-to-back, if the Mavs can push the tempo it could pay dividends on the defense end. Tired teams generally struggle on jump shots, but surprisingly that hasn’t been the case for the Wiz this season. Washington shoots 40.9 percent on threes in those games, per NBA.com, and scores 104.8 points per game on the second night of a back-to-back. Both stats are higher than the team’s on any other number of days of rest. Of course, no trend is a rule in the NBA, so the Mavs could very well be the team to break that chain. Dallas has still struggled to defend the three-point line this season, so no matter how tired Washington might be, the defense is going to have to take care of the perimeter.

    The Dallas defense has been on a steady incline since the Rondo trade, which is obviously a very good thing. The Mavs are now 20th in the league in defensive efficiency, and they will likely continue to improve in that area as time goes by and the players get more used to each other. Last year’s team, remember, finished third in offensive rating and 22nd in defensive rating. Carlisle has made it a point to profess his desire for the defense to improve over last season’s performance, and so far, so good. However, tonight will be another big test.