It wasn't an ideal start for the Mavericks against an explosive young team like the Washington Wizards. The Wizards jumped out to an early lead on Dallas. Luckily, Samuel Dalembert took it upon himself early to keep the Mavs within striking distance.
In what was jokingly being called "the Dalembert Game" on Twitter, the Mavs' starting center performed admirably early on. He was active around the basket on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he found open spots under the rim and finished shots with authority rather than settling for jumpers or layups. Washington turned to its big men in Nene and Marcin Gortat early, but Dalembert's presence helped mitigate the Wizards' frontcourt.
Once Dalembert sat, however, the Wizards began to attack the rim. Dallas struggled to defend the paint against the prodding of John Wall and the slashing of Bradley Beal. Their drives opened up shooters in the corners and Trevor Ariza, Washington's leading scorer with 27 points, was all too happy to fire away.
Washington may have grown their early lead if it wasn't for the efforts of Vince Carter, Jae Crowder, and DeJuan Blair off the bench. Carter led all bench scorers with 16 points. He frequently found himself wide open from the three point line and connected on four of his nine attempts from behind the arc. While Crowder did not score much, just four points, he was active on both ends of the floor.
In Dalembert's absence, Blair has been playing great. He was pegged with defending Nene for much of the second half and did yeoman's work against him, forcing several late turnovers. Blair was one point away from a double-double on the evening with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Any concerns about Jose Calderon's shot not falling should be a distant memory at this point. He went 4-8 from the floor including 3-6 from downtown. There is a movement afoot that wants him to shoot more. Only time will tell if supporters of this movement will be placated.
It wasn't an ideal game for Monta Ellis. His shot wasn't falling early despite drives to the rim. However, he came alive in the fourth quarter. Ellis had his hand in a 10-3 run for the Mavericks in the fourth, scoring four field goals and assisting on a Shawn Marion shot. Ellis finished the game with 19 points on 7-16 shooting and dished out seven assists.
The Wizards did not go down without a fight. Wall sliced apart the Mavericks' defense at times on route to 10 assists to go along with 14 points. Gortat also played well ending the night with 12 points and 12 rebounds. At one point in the second half, Washington cut the Mavs' lead to just four points. However, turnovers and poor execution stymied any sustained comeback that they tried to make.
Pacing the Mavericks on the evening was Dirk Nowitzki. He totaled 19 points on 8-19 shooting. Those 19 shots should be a welcome sign to those who have been questioning the number of looks the franchise player has been getting in previous games. As the Wizards tried to make a comeback, they were actively double-teaming the Mavs' ball handler. This led to Dirk getting several open looks throughout the second half. Late in the third quarter, Nowitzki connected on consecutive 3-pointers which moved him into 16th place all-time in scoring, passing Jerry West.
Despite a sizable number of empty seats to begin the game tonight, the Mavericks once again sold out another home game to keep their streak alive. The Mavs' sellout streak now stands at 477, a professional sports record.