#SeatsForSoldiers night is always a win. In a weird twist of this world, millionaires play a game and wounded men and women watch from the sidelines. Heroes. And they deserved a better show tonight.
The Mavericks had never lost on this night of Military Appreciation until last season. They lost again tonight, now 9-2 on this special evening. I wish I could talk more about the brave men and women, but I’m here to talk about the Mavericks, and they were pathetic tonight.
A close game to halftime, the Wizards both came out scorching hot in the third quarter and the Mavericks were playing absolutely no defense. Every attempt at the basket was an open look. Every single one. The lead got up to as many as 19, and occurred as late as 8:53 in the 4th quarter.
The Mavs did come fighting back, led by Raymond Felton‘s triple-double and J.J. Barea‘s season-high 21 points, but it was far, far too little too late. The best they could do at the buzzer was a Dirk Nowitzki heave that fell way, way short. Dirk had another tough game, shooting 3-9 and struggling to get open against Jared Dudley and Otto Porter Jr.
A lot of things had to happen to set up such a situation to tie for overtime. Washington started missing shots, not that they were being defended. The Mavericks seriously did not contend more than three shots in the second half. After the Wizards scored 39 in the third quarter, Dallas had 39 of their own in the 4th.
The Mavericks managed to get the lead down to 10 with 2:38 left, and cracked single digits with 1:17 to go. Dallas employed the hack-a-player strategy late, choosing Ramon Sessions. Sessions is a 76% free throw shooter and went 4/4 in this curious strategy. I strongly believe Rick Carlisle wanted to try any other alternative to his team playing straight up defense.
Even with the deficit now far more manageable than just minutes earlier, this game seemed over. But the Wizards started coughing up the ball down the stretch, including turnover by Jared Dudley just moments into a new possession that led to a Devin Harris layup and a 112-109 score.
It was, irregardless as the kids (shouldn’t) say, all for not. The hole dug by those Mavs was too deep and they almost cracked the surface but fell toJohn Wall and the Wizards.
Wall, who will make his third All-Star team in February, had 26 points, 16 assists and was the only Wizard late to really secure this victory they so desperately tried to squander away. Otto Porter Jr. had a career-high 28 points because of course and he really was wide open all night.
The Mavericks are now 0-4 at home against the Eastern Conference…and oddly enough, 4-0 when playing on the road against the East.
Final Score: Washington 114 (10-12), Mavericks (13-11) 111
Mavericks: Wesley Matthews, 28 (Felton had 10)
Wizards: Otto Porter Jr., 28
Wizards: Marcin Gortat, 12
Mavericks: Raymond Felton, 11 (Felton had 11)
Wizards: John Wall, 16 (3rd in NBA in APG; previous season-high was 13)
Mavericks: Wesley Matthews, +10
Wizards: Garrett Temple, +16
Next Game: Monday vs. Phoenix Suns (10-14; #WelcomeBackTyson 2.0)