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Wizards' comeback falls short in Dallas
When the Wizards last went to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2017, their regular season record was the same as it is this season through the first 10 games. Washington dug itself too deep a hole on Tuesday night against the sharpshooting Mavericks, falling 119-100 in Dallas and moving its record to 2-8 on the year. And while recent history says they’re far from panic mode, the Wizards have shortened their margin for error with a tough start to the season.
The Wizards showed plenty of fight in a road environment that hasn’t traditionally been kind to them, coming back from deficits as high as 24 points to get within six twice late in the game. Still, Dallas reached the bonus for the final 6:49 of the game and closed the evening on a 20-7 run to ice away a victory. The Mavericks made the Wizards pay for sending them to the line all night, hitting a nearly perfect 26-of-27 free throws.
John Wall’s first double-double of the season (24 points, 10 assists) highlighted the night for Washington, while Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. added 19 points and six rebounds apiece. It was Beal and Porter’s combined 17 points in the third quarter that jumpstarted a Wizards comeback and allowed them back into the game, trailing by only nine at the end of the frame.
Porter lit up the scoreboard from 3-point range, hitting 5-of-6 on the night, but Washington couldn’t keep up with the Mavericks’ relentless barrage from deep that started early. After a 1-for-9 start to the game from the field, Dallas hit eight of its next 12 shots and took an 11-point lead after the first quarter. For the game, the Mavericks shot 44.1% from deep and hit a whopping 15 3-pointers. They were paced by rookie Luka Doncic (23 points) and Wesley Matthews (22 points, five 3-pointers), but also got 19 points apiece from Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr. in one of their most complete games of the season.
It may not seem like allowing 119 points could point to defensive improvement, but the Wizards showed in spurts how they can find success outside of the scoring column Tuesday. They started the third quarter with nine straight defensive stops and forced 17 Dallas turnovers for the game, capitalizing and scoring 23 points off of the miscues. Still, too many open shots were given up for the Wizards’ liking, and the Mavericks made it count all night. Dallas also controlled the boards, outrebounding Washington, 49-33.
"We had good looks and good shots," Wall said postgame. "We didn’t turn the ball over a lot, which we did in the first couple of games…we didn’t communicate well in transition. We were in coverage; we just stayed longer than we were supposed to and giving up threes. They were giving up their threes. In the third quarter we did a better job of playing with great intensity. I just feel like we had 18 wide open threes, we just missed and still had a chance down six in the 4th quarter with five minutes to go.”
Next, the Wizards will get a couple of days off on the road before taking on Orlando to start their first back-to-back of the season. Tipoff against the Magic on Friday night is set for 7:00 p.m. (NBCSW+, 1500 AM).