Dallas Mavericks had to come out against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night showing more fight than they did in the previous two games, as they lost to the Grizzlies and Nets by a combined 69 points. The Mavs did indeed put up a much more respectable effort, while still managing to fall apart late in a high-scoring 132-123 loss to the Wizards, snapping their nine-game winning streak in Washington D.C.
The Mavs, after scoring no more than 88 points in each of their last two games, rediscovered their offense in this game, despite continuing to trend the wrong direction on the defensive end.
Luka Doncic, despite suffering through a brutal shooting night (11-of-26 from the field, 2-of-8 from deep), finished the game with a team-high 31 points to go along with his 11 rebounds and seven assists. Despite the team giving up an absurd amount of points, Doncic was one player that had active hands throughout the night, adding four steals to his stat line. After committing 16 turnovers in his first two games back from the All-Star break, Doncic has cleaned up his act a good bit, committing just six turnovers over his last three games. And, of course, you knew he had to pull out one of his patented step-back threes as well.
“It was almost impossible to get him off the floor tonight because he was playing so well,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He struck a terrific balance between drives, the outside shot and involving teammates. And he was our leader out there. I loved the way he played.”
Dwight Powell, who has been playing out of his mind as of late, continued that trend by putting up a career-high 26 points on an almost incredible 11-of-12 shooting from the field. Powell also finished with 10 rebounds, two assists and a block in 36 minutes as a starter. Remember how poorly Powell was shooting the long ball earlier this season? Those struggles are no more, as he’s in the middle of a huge upswing in that department, shooting a crazy 53 percent from deep over his last 20 games. Powell will enter the off season with a big decision to make regarding his $10.3 million player option for next year, but if he continues playing the way has, Powell opting in for next season could turn out to be a win for the Mavs. If Powell opts out? Well, then the Mavs add $10 million to their already estimated $30 million in cap space to spend this summer. Powell is averaging 9.4 points (60 percent from the field, 31 percent from deep) and 4.6 rebounds in 19 minutes per game for the Mavs this season.
With this loss, the Mavs have now pulled even with the Wizards in the Tankathon standings. The Mavs and Wizards are currently tied with the seventh best odds of winning the NBA Draft Lottery on May 14 (stay tuned to DallasBasketball.com in the coming days, as we’ll be going over the Mavs ‘unlucky’ franchise history when it comes to the lottery, and why there’s reason for optimism this time around).