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