The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Washington Wizards by a score of 130-117; the game wasn’t even as close as the final indicated. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way for Dallas with 31 points off the bench, while Kyle Kuzma paced Washington with 22 points of his own. Luka Donic had a nice response game despite subpar shooting, and the Dallas role players severely outplayed their Wizard counterparts.
Both teams came out hot in the first quarter, trading baskets at a blistering pace. Doncic and Derrick Jones Jr. combined to score 21 of the Mavericks’ first 23 points. After the two of them built a lead for Dallas, Sixth Man of the Year candidate Tim Hardaway Jr. came in and went supernova, helping the Mavericks take a 41-26 lead into the second quarter.
The offense slowed down just a bit for Dallas in the second quarter, but they compensated for that by ratcheting up their defense. The Mavericks held Washington to just 25 points in the frame, a great mark by today’s offensive standards. They consistently forced the Wizards into tough shots and used those misses to attack in transition. Hardaway continued to cook, rookie Dereck Lively II looked great on both ends, and the Mavericks went into the locker room at half with a 20-point lead at 71-51.
There are only two words needed to describe the third quarter: Dereck Lively. The Mavericks’ rookie big man was completely dominant in the frame, racking up 13 points and dunking all over the Washington Wizards. His chemistry with Doncic in the pick and roll was beautiful, and Luka kept feeding him as the pair took advantage of a confused Washington defense. Dallas definitely took their foot off the gas a bit, but Lively’s play helped Dallas increase their lead and head into the fourth up 104-83.
Kyle Kuzma finally started to get going to begin the fourth, scoring five quick points to trim the Dallas lead down to 16. But the Mavericks responded, largely due to the play of Seth Curry and the rest of the bench. They restored their 20-plus point lead and never looked back, cruising to a 130-117 victory. It was a great, much-needed win with two days off on the horizon. Here are four observations that told the story of this one.
Lively and Hardaway stepped up
With Kyrie Irving out and Dallas needing a bounce-back performance, Dereck Lively II and Tim Hardaway Jr. answered the call. The duo combined for 48 points, and each went about their business in different ways. Lively destroyed Washington inside while Hardaway did his damage from beyond the three-point line. These two players likely have the most polar opposite skillsets of any players on the roster, but both of them were the best versions of themselves tonight. Their play underscores how important it is for guys to know their roles and star in them.
Dallas contained Kyle Kuzma
In my preview for tonight’s game, I highlighted how Kuzma owned the Mavericks last season. It was a big reason why Dallas lost both games against the Wizards. Tonight, the Mavericks did a fantastic job of making things difficult for him. He was able to score 22 points, but he did so on just 6-of-18 shooting. Kuzma’s co-star Jordan Poole helped build the house with a 6-of-17 shooting line of his own. Forcing the Wizards’ best players into these kinds of shooting nights is a big reason why this game was never close.
Derrick Jones Jr. continues to impress
Coming into the season, I wrote about how Derrick Jones Jr. could be effectively utilized by the Mavericks. I saw potential in his rolling ability and game-changing defensive upside. What I didn’t anticipate was him being above average at corner threes. Jones has done an incredible job of cashing in on these open shots, and it’s clear that he isn’t afraid to take them, either. He showcased every part of his game tonight; he finished inside, he played excellent defense, he forced turnovers, and he benefited from sublime point-guard play from Luka Doncic. He’s been so, so good for the Mavericks. Getting him on the veteran minimum is looking like the biggest coup of the offseason.
Josh Green has got to be better
I hate to say anything negative about this game because it was such a dominant performance from Dallas, but Josh Green was so noticeably bad that I felt the need to address it. Green was scoreless in a little over 36 (!!!) minutes in a game that saw Dallas score 130 points. He took just four shots. On defense, he was just as bad. He got lost on screens, was consistently beaten off the dribble, and couldn’t get to loose balls. You almost have to wonder if something is going on with him mentally, because we’ve seen him look so much better than what he’s shown this season.
He’s lucky that Seth Curry stayed ready and balled out in his stead because Dallas needed someone to provide good guard play with Irving out. This was the low point for Green so far this year, and the hope is that it lights a fire under him to improve.
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