Dallas, TX — After six straight losses, the Dallas Mavericks hosted the Washington Wizards. Despite the Wizards talented roster, their 2-7 record indicates struggle to find consistent offense and defense much like the Mavs. In a match-up such as this one, both teams were relying on their bench and heavy rotation to match high-octane offenses.
The first quarter proved to be Dallas’ best offensive start in 10 games. They were able to keep the Wizards to 24 points. In prior games, their opponents were scoring well over 30 in the opening period. Defensively, the Mavs kept John Wall to two points and Dwight Howard to one-point, respectively.
With collective effort from the bench, Harrison Barnes found his footing since returning from his hamstring injury, to hit the first three-pointer of the match and fueled the rest of the offense. Dennis Smith Jr. kept Washington’s defense frustrated by scoring nine points.
After capitalizing off of the Wizard’s slow start, Dallas held the lead at the end of the opening period, 35-24.
Not long ago, Coach Rick Carlisle emphasized the NBA’s evolution to pushing for more three-pointers – tonight the Mavericks showed the long-range shot was in its game plan. By the end of the second, Luka Doncic, Wes Matthews, and reserves JJ Barea, Dorian Finney Smith, had all knocked down a three to extend its lead, 70-49.
Once halftime was over though, the Wizards came back out on the court with a lot more fire. Washington started to rely on its depth and force Dallas to play one-on-one defense. After few miscues in the first two frames, the Wizards forced eight turnovers after increasing its defensive intensity.
This was unusual territory for the Mavs this season after starting several second halves coming from behind and controlling the pace of the game from thereafter. After poor ball handling leading to multiple turnovers and missed shots, Dallas saw their 70-49 lead drastically change to 87-78 by the end of the third quarter.
After starting the game off slowly, Wall became a problem for the Mavs in the fourth period. Within a matter of moments, he pulled his team even closer, 97-91, after sinking a three. His shot alone left the American Airlines Center in awe.
In response to Wall’s burst, Dallas had multiple players step up to hold off the Wizards. Dwight Powell threw down a dunk, Finney Smith connected on another three, DeAndre Jordan had two dunks of his own, and rookie Doncic hit a floater.
Despite Walls’ efforts, it wasn’t enough for the Wizards as he finished with a team-high 24-points.
“We got off to a slow start in the second half. They made a run. We showed a lot of resilience,” Coach Carlisle stated on the importance of the second half. “Stuck together, stayed real positive and then made a push at the end. The game had everything to test the team’s will and togetherness. We needed it. We needed it.”
Even though this was a much-needed win, Washington magnified the growing concern that Dallas has to play a consistent two halves offensively and defensively. However, this particular match-up offers glimmers of what the Mavs can do when the timing is there.
As Dallas’ announcer best describes it at the beginning of the game, it takes being loud and physical for “a whole sixty minutes, twenty-four seconds at a time.”
Dallas will look to build on its momentum as the Mavs take on the Utah Jazz for tomorrow night’s matchup.