The Washington Wizards returned to the Capital One Arena after winning their last game on the road to put them over the .500 mark. They hosted the 1-10 Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night.
The Mavericks started the game with a lob from Wes Matthews to rookie sensation Dennis Smith Jr. and from that point on the Mavericks never relinquished the lead. The rookie would go on to score the 7 of the Mavs first 9 points.. Although it sometimes seems that the Wizards start games slowly, they usually are able to pick it up but it was not their night. The Wizards defensive woes continued as they were having a hard time switching on screens. Despite the difficulties on defense, the Wizards pulled it together enough to close the gap and were down 11 at halftime, 64-53.
In the second half coach Scott Brooks decided to shake up the line-up with inserting Jason Smith in at center instead of Ian Mahinmi. This proved to be a good decision that lead to a 12-0 run for the Wizards beginning the fourth quarter and closing the gap to 90-88.
When the Mavericks starters returned they continued to show the weakness of the Washington defense as they then went on a 5-0 run. The home team had opportunities to bring cut the deficit to single digits and possibly reclaim the lead, but a questionable foul on Otto Porter lead to a pair of free throws by Smith Jr. Dallas would get a stop then Wesley Matthews drilled a three pointer. That seemed to be the spark to push the Mavericks over the edge once and for all. John Wall missed two key free throws at the three minute and twenty second mark that would have brought Washington to within 9 points.
Kelly Oubre gave it one last try as he hit a three pointer with two minutes and twenty-five seconds left to bring the score to 105-96. It wasn’t enough as the Mavericks pulled out the win 113-99, bringing the Wizards back to an even .500 with a 5-5 record through 10 games.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks echoed the same concerns as he has been all season stating, “We need to be a defensive team that can score and not a scoring team that can play defense.”
Offense isn’t the problem here as both Wall and Beal ended the game with 23 points each and even through his struggles, Otto Porter ended with 13.The 31 points for Harrison Barnes and 22 points for the rookie Dennis Smith Jr. shows that a defensive presence is where the Wizards will look to improve with their next game Thursday against the visiting Lakers. A repeat performance on the defensive end could possibly leave Washington under .500 for the first time this season. They have to get these defensive issues together in order to become the type of team they are.