The Wizards achieved a small victory tonight in getting an opposing team to play to the pace that they dictated. The Mavericks indulged the Wizards by running with them and for a brief moment during the third quarter when the Mavericks were cough up their lungs it appeared the strategy would be successful. Unfortunately, reality soon reasserted itself and the Wizards defense broke down completely, which led to the Mavericks slowly and inexorably pulling ahead late in the third quarter. For the Mavericks part, it was a good cardio workout for a team that appeared to spend its title defense summer at the buffet rather than at the gym. (I'm looking at you Dirk.) But hey, Shaquille O'Neal always played his way into shape and maybe the older Mavs see it as their right to play possum until the month of may.
On the Wizards side? It's the same story that has hounded them throughout the season. There were too many missed chances, whether it be missed rotations, missed rebounds or poor positioning. The team arguably played hard but the smaller details still elude them in crucial moments. The rebound that has to be grabbed, the defensive close out that has to happen, none of these things happen at the crucial moment necessary to swing the momentum of the game. The sad part of this is that the Mavericks were there to be had this evening. A little more attention, a little more intensity and running the offensive sets full out each time may have borne the team to the other side of the win/loss column.
For my part, it isn't worth calling out the accomplishments or failures of individual players because until the Wizards learn to improve these issues as a team, its going to be the same story ad nauseum for the rest of the year.