WASHINGTON -- For about 22 minutes, it looked like 2013 would be a great year for the Washington Wizards. The team got off to an incredible start against the Dallas Mavericks, jumping out to an early 14-point lead on the strength of a hot start from Bradley Beal and an excellent team defensive performance.
As usually happens with this team, though, guys stopped making shots and the wheels came off on offense. Washington fell behind in the third quarter and never really making it a close game the rest of the way, eventually losing 103-94.
The worst thing about tonight's performance is that the team's perimeter defense looked really weak at times, as Vince Carter looked unstoppable while scoring 23 points and O.J. Mayo barely had to break a sweat while chipping in 15.
Oh well. At least Beal had a good game and Jan Vesely showed some signs of life. Here are some game notes.
- Bradley Beal looked awesome early on. He hit a nice floater over Vince Carter in the lane, a three from the corner, and had a brutal rejection on Collison by the time Dallas calls the first timeout of the night with 7:40 left in the first.
- Emeka Okafor is so awkward looking when he tries to shoot. Fortunately, he's been finding the net a bit tonight and has 4 early points and a couple of boards.
- Martell Webster has been active and effective early on. You could make the case that he's been the team's most reliable and consistent player this year.
- Nasty dunk by Jan late in the first quarter. He's slowly but surely seeming to get his confidence back.
- Washington's up 29 - 23 as the first quarter comes to a close. Beal's your MVP and Jan is looking a lot better than normal.
- The Wizards are just clicking tonight. Everyone's playing the way we thought they would during the offseason, including Beal and Vesely. It's 34 - 23 early in the second quarter and Washington's outplayed Dallas in every way imaginable.
- Ok, so this is the type of thing that makes me so much more optimistic about Jan Vesely than a lot of people seem to be. Early in the game, he played a couple of minutes next to Seraphin, Martin, Mack, and Crawford and, despite how awful all of the team's perimeter defenders were, Dallas could only score off of bad shots and open jumpers given up by poor rotations by the perimeter players. If Jan ever sticks, he's going to be one of those guys who doesn't put up numbers but always seems to have incredible plus/minus ratings, sort of like a cross between Nick Collison and Ekpe Udoh.
- There is nothing - nothing - better about the Wizards viewing experience than Inflatable G Wiz. That's not a bad thing.
- Washington continues to knock down shots and play absurdly competent offense, even as the defense slips a bit with Vesely's exit about halfway through the second. It's 51 - 39 Washington with 2:20 left. Beal, Okafor, Nene, and The Airwolf are the team's standouts.
- It's 52 - 48 at halftime. Dallas made a comeback largely on the strength of Vince Carter and Chris Kaman's scoring along with Marion's defense on Nene.
- Kaman's scoring a lot and really exposes the Wizards' inability to guard really tall post players. Fortunately, there aren't too many of them, but it's still something the team might want to fix sometime soon. A real rim protector is the main thing keeping the defense from becoming truly great.
- With Washington down three and about halfway through the third quarter, Jordan Crawford took leaning fadeaway over two defenders for no apparent reason. Is this the dark side of steez?
- Washington's offense falls apart when Nene comes out. It's not as noticeable when Beal and Seraphin are hitting shots, but this team just can't get clean looks without a strong playmaker to set everyone up.
- Dallas is up 90 - 76 with 9:10 left in the fourth quarter. The fourth has been a lot like the third in that Vince Carter is getting buckets like it's 2005 and no one on the Wizards can score.
- Garrett Temple has looked legit in the few minutes he's been on the floor tonight. He's looking decent shooting from the corners and handling the ball and he's been the team's best backcourt defender all night.
- Seraphin used a dropstep and a countermove on one play in the fourth quarter tonight. He looked hesitant but it worked out and he made the shot. Hopefully we'll see more of this in the future.