WSH 92 DAL 102
WASHINGTON- After a strong first half, the Washington Wizards once again falter down the stretch as they lose their 24th consecutive road game to the Dallas Mavericks.
The excitement for Super Bowl XLV was clear through out the crowd at the American Airlines Arena as Steelers and Packers fans were present; Cowboys fans of course booed both.
John Wall came out of the gate determined not to allow his team to get off to another slow start. The rookie guard from Kentucky was aggressive getting to rim as well as setting up teammates early on, finishing with 17 points and 10 assists.
Wall delivered his most impressive pass of the night to during the second quarter when he threaded the needle from the top of the key to a cutting Al Thornton who converted the layup and drew a foul.
After leading by as many as 12 though, the Wizards ended the first half down by one.
The Mavericks responded in the second half like a veteran team playing down the worst road team in the league should. Led by Dirk Nowitzki, who scored a relatively quiet 24 points, the Mavericks were able to slow down the tempo of the game and spread out the Wiz kids in half-court sets.
Center Tyson Chandler’s 18 points and 18 rebounds allowed the Mavs to control the paint for a majority of the night, as Dallas corralled five more rebounds than Washington despite taking 15 less shots.
Mavs point guard Jason Kidd narrowly missed the 106th triple-double of his career with 11 assists to go with his 11 points and 9 rebounds. Kidd is ranked third all-time for the statistical feat, trailing only hall of famers Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.
Although the Wizards two top scorers (Andray Blatche and Nick Young) finished a combined 10-37 from the field, Washington cut the lead to four with 2:28 left in the game. An errant pass from Blatche to Wall, followed by Nowitzki 18-footer on the other end put the game out of reach for good.
Tonight, turnovers were not the problem. Only Memphis, Golden State and Portland commit more than the Wiz, who average 16.02 turnovers on the road. For this game, they only gave up seven. Free throw shooting was what ultimately killed Washington down the stretch.
Though neither team shot particularly well from the charity stripe, the Wizards seemed to miss them when they mattered the most. Case in point: John Wall goes to the line with a chance to make it a one possession game with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter, but misses pair of shots. The team finished 19 – 31, good for 61 percent.
Ultimately, the Mavericks experience and team cohesiveness were too much for the struggling Wizards. The differences between the teams were evident when the ball was slowed down: as a team Dallas assisted on 27 of a total 34 shots made while the Wizards only managed 18 assists for their 34 made baskets. The Mavs were creating shots for one another and looked comfortable, the Wizards did not.
In an inspired performance, fourth-year Wiz forward Yi Jianlian had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. What really stood out though about Yi’s game was his energy and hustle as he was rarely out of position, boxing out opposing players in the paint and reading passing lanes on defense. Yi came away with a career-high four steals as he had what was easily his best game as a Wizard.
The Mavericks extend their current winning streak to five and hand the Wizards a fifth consecutive loss overall, dropping the team to 13-34 for the reason. Ironically enough, the Mavericks were the last team to lose as many road games in a single-season, dropping 29 away from Dallas during the 1992-93 season. The Wizards next chance to snap that streak is tonight against the New Orleans Hornets.
Game Notes: Wizards Forward and former Maverick Josh Howard, who hasn’t played since a New Years Eve loss to Indiana, continues to sit due to soreness in his surgically repaired knee… After missing the last two games with the Flu, Wizards Center JaVale McGee returned to action, scoring 2 points off the bench. Recently signed Peja Stojakovic did not play and will not travel with Dallas on their upcoming three-game road trip due to a sore left knee. The Mavericks will also be without former Wizard Caron Butler, who will miss the remainder of the reason due to a tendon injury in his knee.