The Dallas Mavericks went to Washington to take on the Wizards on Friday night, lead for most of the night, and had their hearts ripped out in the final seconds after a game-winning layup from Bradley Beal.
With the game on the line, missed free throws and some mind-boggling turnovers cost the Mavericks the game, and a chance to start their two-game road trip the right way.
The first quarter felt like a tennis match at times, with how frequently the ball was going back and forth on the screen. No one expected this one to be a defensive grind, and the first 12 minutes was no exception, with the the Mavericks getting a lot of offensive boards, and converting them to second-chance points.
Seth Curry lead the way for the Mavericks to finish the half, putting up 15 points on 50 percent shooting from deep. On the other end, Bradley Beal continued his scoring tear with 16 points, while shooting 50 percent from the floor.
Neither team played inspiring defense to say the least, but the Mavericks took advantage of the Wizards inability to grab a rebound, scoring 16 second-chance points in the first 24 minutes.
The Wizards started the fourth quarter strong, taking an early lead, before the Mavericks got into the bonus with just over eight minutes left.
Kristaps Porzingis had a rough outing, only scoring 11 points and nine rebounds in his 21 limited minutes. He appeared to be fine after copping a broken nose against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, but foul trouble kept him on the bench for most of the game.
Here’s three things from tonight’s game in Washington.
Jalen Brunson is one hell of a ride
Brunson has had to take on substantially more responsibility in Luka Doncic’s absence, and he’s done some really great things in that time. He’s also done some really questionable things on the court, especially in crunch-time moments.
Tonight was a prime example of that, turning the ball over at a crucial time, then coming down the floor on the next possession hitting an extremely difficult layup. Following the layup, Brunson tried to draw contact on a bad mid-range shot, and the Wizards responded with a clutch bucket.
The ride isn’t over, you can’t get off yet. Brunson threw a slick no-look pass to Dorian Finney-Smith in the corner, hitting a three to put the Mavericks up five points with under two minutes to go.
When he’s good, he’s great - but in clutch time, I spend a lot of time feeling anxious, not knowing what I’m about to see.
We might start seeing more Courtney Lee
It was a bit of a surprise to see Lee getting inserted into to the starting lineup tonight, with him playing only 92 minutes in the first 51 games of the season, but the 11-year veteran showed he can still be ready when his name is called.
Rick Carlisle has always been unpredictable with his rotations, so this may just be a random blip on the radar, but while the Mavericks are short-handed, Lee might see more court time after putting up 11 points and 2 rebounds, while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor.
Okay, I’m really ready for Luka Doncic to come back
The Mavericks have been more than just one player this season, a lot of different guys have played pivotal roles at different times, but the team just doesn’t feel great without their 20-year-old all-star on the floor.
Tonight’s game was the fifth he’s missed in a row, with a return looking sometime in the near-future, but it couldn’t come sooner. Against this Wizards team, it would have been a different story, had Luka been healthy.
The Mavericks will now head to Charlotte to play the Hornets tomorrow night.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.