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.
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.
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.