WASHINGTON – It happened to the Dallas Mavericks again.
One day after losing to an Orlando Magic team that was playing without their best player, the Mavs lost Thursday night to a Washington Wizards team that was playing without their two best players.
The Wizards were without Bradley Beal (health and safety protocols) and former Mavs forward/center Kristaps Porzingis (groin). But Kyle Kuzma tallied 36 points and Washington’s bench outscored Dallas’ bench, 50-25, and the Wizards went on to claim a stunning 113-105 victory over the Mavs.
Luka Doncic tried his best to put the onus on himself for the Mavs’ off-key performance in the last two games, including against the Wizards when he was held to a season-low 22 points on 8-of-21 shooting.
“I’ve been awful for two games now,” Doncic said. “These two games are on me. We got to figure it out.
“It’s two games we’re supposed to win, but we didn’t, so I’ve got to figure it out.”
The figuring out process will come quickly for the Mavs, who will take their 6-5 record into American Airlines Center on Saturday when they start a five-game homestand against Portland. However, coach Jason Kidd was adamant that his team wins and loses together.
“I don’t think it’s Luka’s fault,” Kidd said. “It’s the team, it’s everyone – coaches, everybody who wears the Mavs’ shield. It’s on them.
“We haven’t done our job the last two games. That’s why you play 82 of them, so we’ll go back and look at this.”
When they do, they’ll see where three three-pointers by Spencer Dinwiddie, two triples from Reggie Bullock, a three-pointer from Dorian Finney-Smith — plus a basket from Dwight Powell — staked the Mavs to a 22-8 lead at the 6:47 mark of the first quarter.
At that point it appeared as though this was going to be a fun-filled night loaded with so much offensive efficiency from the Mavs. Then, the Wizards got hot. . .and hotter. And the Mavs got cold. . .and colder.
By halftime, Washington had trimmed the Mavs’ lead to 61-58. And by the conclusion of the third quarter, the Wizards lead, 87-83, and were in the middle of a back-breaking 21-6 run which saw their lead mushroom to 100-86 with 7:45 left in the game.
The Mavs didn’t pose much of a threat thereafter, much to the chagrin of Kidd, whose team got outscored, 55-44, in the second half.
“We’ll look at it tomorrow and see where we can get better, but it’s not Luka,” Kidd said. “It’s the team, and we’re just not playing well right now. And it happens.
“It just happens to be early in the season, but that’s where when you talk about your best player takes responsibility, leadership, that’s what he’s doing. It’s nice to see, but it’s not truly all of it on his shoulders.”
Dinwiddie did his best to keep the Mavs afloat, as he was 11-of-17 from the field, including 7-of-12 from three-point territory in scoring a season-high 33 points and dispensing six assists in a game that was a homecoming of sorts. Acquired by the Wizards on Aug. 6, 2021 in a sign-and-trade that involved five teams, Dinwiddie inked a three-year deal for $54 million with the Wizards.
But on Feb. 10, the Wizards traded Davis Bertans and Dinwiddie to the Mavs for Porzingis and a 2022 second-round draft pick. Dinwiddie, however, came here to get a victory, not celebrate any individual accomplishments.
“We got some good looks overall,” he said. “At the end of the day we gave up 113 to a short-handed team.
“If we hold people closer to the 100-point mark like we try to have as a target, the game’s probably a lot different.”
The Mavs played without top reserve Christian Wood (left knee sprain), and that limited some of the bench scoring he normally provides. Still, to a man, the Mavs believe they should have gotten out of Washington with a victory, just like they believe they should gave gotten out of Orlando with a victory.
“You can’t just have two people scoring,” Kidd said. “It’s a team game. Normally our bench has been really good. The last two games it hasn’t.
“We got to a really good start — everyone shooting the ball well. Again, we’ve got to look at the second half. We can’t score in the second half.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 16 points off the bench, and Powell collected 14 points and seven rebounds. But the Mavs are in such an awful funk that they hope to escape from it when they battle Portland.
Besides Kuzma, the Wizards got 23 points in just 26 minutes from Rui Hachimura, 14 points and seven rebounds form Will Barton, and 12 points and six boards from Deni Avdija.
The Mavs shot 43 percent from the field and a respectable 38.3 percent (18-of-47) from behind the three-point line. But Washington outrebounded the Mavs, 52-41, and also outscored them in the paint by a sizeable 52-36 margin.
“I think the worst thing is we’re just allowing teams that are short-handed — or, aren’t necessarily the greatest, obviously — to put up points and put up big numbers,” Dinwiddie said. “I think that’s more the concerning thing.
“If we would have just lost 85-80, and it would be like, ‘Yo, we didn’t score, this is terrible, what are we doing?’ We just didn’t make shots. Sometimes things happen.”
Unfortunately, it happened two nights in a row to the Mavs.
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