Mavericks 103, Wizards 94: Three thoughts

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Sports,Pick and Roll,Craig Stouffer

It felt like the kind of game that could’ve been a sign of better luck for the Wizards in 2013. The Mavericks not only came to Washington having lost six straight. They had been getting destroyed, by an average of 19.2 points per game, and they were playing that way through the first 15 minutes at Verizon Center. But that was it. Dallas woke up, the Wizards coasted and just like that it turned into another example of Washington’s futility, not a game to build on for the future. Onward to three thoughts:

No one expected Vince Carter to be the player of the night. Well, at least no one expected him to dunk on the first play of the game.

“Surprised me,” Carter said. “It’s one of those: ‘Oh my gosh, attack the rim, it’s right there.’ It’s one of those things. I was fresh, I was ready to go. I was just in attack mode from jump street, just to get us started. Whether that basket went in or not, that was my goal.”

Carter also finished off the game in the same fashion.

“He said to me coming off the court during the timeout, he goes: ‘Bet you didn’t think I could do that,’” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “I said, ‘I think you can do that.’ He said, ‘Once in a while,’ yeah. He still has tremendous athleticism even though he’s an older guy.”

Bradley Beal’s response: “You can’t really say nothing, but cheer for him. It’s just like an amazement, an awe, so to speak.”

Speaking of Beal, he nearly had his best game of the season while raising familiar questions about the Wizards rotation at shooting guard. The 19-year-old rookie should’ve had his season-high amount of points but missed a couple of free throws after the game had already been decided late in the fourth quarter.

He finished with 22 points on 7-for-16 shooting, including a season-high four 3-pointers after he’d gone 0 for his last 17 from the arc since Dec. 15. But he still missed a couple of shots badly, including one that hit the side of the backboard.

It was clear that Beal was energized, and not just because it was Beal Bobblehead night. (
“I kind of like it,” he said when asked if it looks like him.) He knows he’s got to be aggressive and find ways to get his offense going when the midrange jumper isn’t falling. Shooting 44 percent is a start.

But it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Jordan Crawford, in his third straight game coming off the bench, had just nine points, only his second game since Nov. 24 in which he didn’t reach double figures. Crawford was demoted after arriving late to shootaround on Dec. 26, but it’s turned into a coaching decision. It also feels like the start of the season when it wasn’t exactly clear how the Wizards were going to manage two shooting guards who have to account for a large portion of the team’s offense. Crawford lasted seven games off the bench at the start of the year before Wittman had to change his rotation. We’ll have to see how long it lasts this time around.

Emeka Okafor is playing his best basketball of the season, but it isn’t translating into wins. The veteran center now has double doubles in four of the Wizards’ last five games starting alongside Nene. The Wizards didn’t win any of those games.

“It’s good,” Nene said. “Like, they double me, and he take advantage right now. He reading, you know. That’s good. I hope they continue, like, they go soft on him.”

Jan Vesely got smoked by Dirk Nowitzki, who dropped a couple of signature jump shots over the fellow 7-foot European who aspires to be just like him but right now barely plays the same sport.  But Wittman said there aren’t enough minutes for Chris Singleton, who hasn’t played in four of the last five games.

“He’s got to be more consistent,” Wittman said prior to the game. “Both he and Jan have got to be consistent in their play. That’s the main thing. Good one day, bad the next, inconsistency fluctuates how well you play.”

At least Vesely finished with a minus-two – not nearly as bad as Kevin Seraphin’s minus-24 – and had more points (two) than personal fouls (one). Vesely remains at minus-three for the season, with 52 fouls and 49 points.

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner