Washington Wizards: 3 Takeaways From Loss To Mavericks

Washington Wizards

Mar 15, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) reacts after suffering an apparent left foot injury against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After five road games in seven days, the Washington Wizards returned home. Unfortunately, they were unable to get the victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Washington Wizards lost to the Dallas Mavericks 112-107 on Mar. 15. It was high scoring affair early in the first quarter with both teams scoring over 30 points.

The Wizards lost despite jumping out to an early lead. Their inability to hold a lead — particularly in the fourth quarter, where they were outscored 39-27 and committed 12 turnovers — showed that they still have work to do as a unit before the playoffs arrive.

There was also a scare for the Washington Wizards when John Wall went down in the second quarter with a sprained left foot. But Wall returned in the second half, finishing with 26 points, 11 assists and three steals.

The Mavericks were without sharpshooter Wes Matthews, who was out with a calf strain. However, Dallas didn’t miss Matthews too much.

Seth Curry scored 19 points, big man Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting and forward Harrison Barnes scored 22 points. Barnes shot 10-for-16 from the floor.

The Mavericks bench chipped in a total of 40 points as well. Center Nerlens Noel had 12 points, three rebounds, an assist and a block in 22 minutes after returning from right knee injury. It was the team’s seventh win in their last 10 games.

On the the Wizards side of things, they have allowed over 100 points in their last eight contests. They allowed less than 100 points against the Toronto Raptors back on March 1. But since then, they’ve struggled mightily on defense.

Here’s a look at three takeaways from their loss to the Mavericks.

Mar 15, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Nicolas Brussino (9) attempts a three point basket as Washington Wizards guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) defends during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards’ Bench Production Still Needs Work

The Washington Wizards bench got 19 points from forward Bojan Bogdanovic. Other than Bogdanovic, the bench left much to be desired.

The Wizards didn’t have much of an answer for the Mavericks’ bench production of 40 points. Three bench players finished in double figures.

As a unit, the Wizards bench scored 30 points. With games being as close as they have been for them, they’ll need to get more points from players like Ian Mahinmi and Brandon Jennings.

Mahinmi played roughly 18 minutes for the Wizards, scoring six points and snagging five rebounds. But he also had three fouls, two of them coming in the fourth quarter.

Jennings played 16 minutes in the game, scoring on one of his three long range attempts. He played six minutes in the fourth quarter but was relatively ineffective. He did have two rebounds and four assists to go along with three points, but he’ll still need to step up for the Wizards’ second unit.

With Bogdanovic having found his niche off the bench, Jennings and Mahinmi will need to do the same for the Wizards to go deep in the playoffs. Granted Mahinmi is returning from injury and Jennings is still adjusting to a new team, but with the playoff race getting tight, they’ll need to get acclimated at a quicker pace.

Mar 15, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) shoots a three point basket as Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) defends during the second half at Verizon Center. The Dallas Mavericks won 112 – 107. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Otto Porter Needs To Shoot More

Otto Porter played well, but he’ll need to get more aggressive if the Wizards want to close out games on a stronger note. A few days ago, head coach Scott Brooks said point guard Brandon Jennings need to shoot more. So does Otto Porter.

Porter shot 6-for-9 for the game and 2-for-4 from three, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. But in the fourth quarter, he was a non-factor.

He didn’t shoot at all in the fourth quarter despite playing nine minutes. He’ll need to be more aggressive to give the Wizards another offensive weapon, especially when Marcin Gortat isn’t playing well. Gortat had eight points, making just four of 10 shot attempts.

With Wall and Beal going 19-for-40 from the floor combined, the shots are definitely there for Porter to flourish. He’ll just need to take the shots. Bradley Beal was also 4-for-12 from three. With his shot being off from behind the arc, Porter can step up in those moments.

Or get to the free throw line. Teammate Bojan Bogdanovic was 4-for-5 from the field but also 8-for-9 from the free throw line.

Porter hasn’t scored over 20 points since Mar.  8, when he scored 20 points in a 123-113 over the Denver Nuggets. The game was also Porter’s first game without a steal since Feb. 16, when the Wizards faced the Indiana Pacers.

Mar 15, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) and guard John Wall (2) on the court against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half at Verizon Center. The Dallas Mavericks won 112 – 107. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards’ Team Defense Needs to Improve

The Washington Wizards didn’t play a bad game offensively. They were 48.8 percent from the floor with 17 fastbreak points and 50 points combined from John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Granted, offense has saved the day time and again for the Washington Wizards in their past few games. But this loss is a sign that their defense as a team still needs to improve.

The Mavericks shot 50.6 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from the floor. They shot 17-for-32 from the three-point line as a team.

It is the third time this season the Wizards have allowed 17 three-point makes. They allowed a season-high 19 back on Feb. 6 in their 140-135 loss to the Cavaliers.

Dallas opened the fourth quarter on a 16-7 run jumping out to an 89-87 lead with just over seven minutes left in the game. Once the Mavericks took the lead, they never looked back.

The Mavs made seven of their 17 three pointers in the fourth quarter, a lot of them wide open shots. They also went on a 13-0 run, making three three-pointers, leading by as many as 10 points before the Wizards could respond.

Rookie Nicolas Brussino from Argentina made two of those three-pointers. He finished with 11 points, going 3-for-4 from three-point land in the game off the bench.

Closing out games is the Wizards current task at hand. They have been outscored 69-51 in their past two games in the fourth quarter. They’ll need to lock up on defense to get back to their winning ways. They face the Chicago Bulls next at home on Friday.

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