But Washington came out with some fire, led to an early lead by the steady play of Bradley Beal and John Wall. They diligently maintained the lead through three quarters, never allowing the Mavericks closer than an arm’s length away.
Then, the moment Washington relaxed, the Mavericks struck.
Dallas locked down a suddenly jumbled Washington offense with timely double teams and active help defense. The Mavericks added timely three-point shooting from unlikely stars to their standard dose of Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes.
And despite trailing Washington for nearly the entire game. Dallas ultimately left the Verizon Center with a 112-107 victory on Wednesday night.
Barnes led the Mavericks with 22 points and 9 rebounds, and Nowitzki scored 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Wall tallied his usual double-double with 26 points and 11 assists, and Beal scored 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting.
The Wizards thrived early on, scoring 39 points in an up-and-down first quarter to the Mavericks’ 32. Both teams were shooting over 50 percent from the field through one period.
The second and third quarters passed rather uneventfully. The Mavericks slowed the pace to the relative crawl they’re more accustomed to — Dallas ranks 29th in the league in possessions per game — and they used that advantage to keep up with the increasingly lackadaisical Wizards despite a shorthanded roster (Wes Matthews missed the game due to injury, and Dorian Finney-Smith started in his stead).
The game swung like a pendulum, but never out of the Wizards’ favor. They led by 10 points for a moment, then just two points the next. Never in hand, but never out of control.
All that changed when the Mavericks upped their defensive intensity and offensive movement to begin the final period.
The Wizards’ initial fourth quarter lead of seven points gradually dipped to four. Then it was just one.
And after trading a couple threes, the Mavericks punctuated their comeback with a methodical 13-0 run to open up a 10-point lead on the Wizards with four minutes remaining.
That run included not one, but two clutch three-point baskets from relatively anonymous Argentine Nicolas Brussino. Wall, who played through a minor ankle sprain suffered early on, also committed a couple key turnovers during the Dallas onslaught.
Despite a fervent Wall-led comeback attempt with under a minute to play — the Wizards had the ball down by three points with three seconds left, but Wall was fouled by Yogi Ferrell before reaching half court — Washington never tasted the lead again.
The Wizards haven’t beaten the Mavericks at home since 2008. That streak will continue for another season.
Next up for the Wizards will be the playoff hopeful Chicago Bulls, who visit the Verizon Center on Friday.
Washington remains in third place in the Eastern Conference after the loss, now 1.5 games back from the Boston Celtics.
Moment of the night
Guy attempting halfcourt shot just said into the mic, "This one is for Jan Vesely!” He air balled.— Todd Dybas (@Todd_Dybas) March 16, 2017