Beal’s poster dunk, 30 points lead Wizards past Mavs 132-123
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal made sure to grab his phone in the locker room and get a good look at video of his dunk over 7-foot-2 Salah Mejri, which was embellished by a staredown afterward.
“This one might take the crown, because there was a lot of body-to-body contact,” the 6-foot-5 Beal said with a smile. “Proud of myself, because you know I don’t dunk.”
That play was the most memorable part of a 30-point, eight-assist, seven-rebound performance by the two-time All-Star that led the Washington Wizards past the Dallas Mavericks 132-123 on Wednesday night.
“I had to look at it,” Beal said of the replay. “I haven’t jumped like that, probably, since high school.”
Washington was down 11 in the opening period at 32-21, its second-largest deficit of the evening, when Beal drove the lane and threw down his slam against Mejri. That seemed to wake the hosts, who finally beat Dallas at home after losing nine in a row in Washington against the Mavericks.
Trevor Ariza scored 22 and Jabari Parker 20 for the Wizards, who entered the game 11th in the Eastern Conference and three games out of a playoff berth.
They led 69-65 at halftime, but that edge was merely 116-115 deep into the fourth quarter when Jeff Green made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give the Wizards a more comfortable margin.
“I was ready,” Green said, “to shoot.”
Despite winning two consecutive games and three of its past four, Washington is still only 27-37, the same record as Dallas.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs. Until the fat lady sings at the end of the year,” Beal said, “we’ve got to keep pushing forward.”
Rookie Luka Doncic was spectacular at times for the Mavs, using a mix of step-back 3s, spin moves and all sorts of other elements en route to 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
“It was impossible to get him off the floor tonight, because he was playing so well. He struck a terrific balance between drives, the outside shot and involving teammates,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “And he was our leader out there. I love the way he played.”
Dwight Powell made 11 of 12 shots and scored a career-high 26 points, while contributing 10 rebounds.
But the real star attraction for Dallas, as far as the crowd was concerned, was Dirk Nowitzki, who is expected to retire after his 20th NBA season, all with the Mavericks. He made two free throws for his only points, shot 0 for 3 from the floor and grabbed two rebounds in 12 minutes of action.
Still, he drew louder cheers than most members of the Wizards, even some chants of “MVP!” or “We want Dirk!” — and laments of “Awwwwww” when one 3-point try rimmed out. When Nowitzki entered for the first time with about 2½ minutes left in the opening quarter, a video tribute was shown overhead and the announcer referred to him as “one of the greatest power forwards of all-time.”
“It’s very humbling. I’m very appreciative of the reception I’ve been getting on the road,” Nowitzki said. “But somehow, we’ve got to find a way to get a win.”
Mavericks: Lost 8 of last 9 games. … Had zero turnovers in the first quarter and closed the game with only seven.
Wizards: Beal scored at least 20 points for the 18th game in a row. … Outrebounded the Mavs 49-39 to improve to 14-2 when holding an advantage in that category.
Carlisle on the 40-year-old Nowitzki’s supposedly impending retirement: “We don’t know what his decision is going to be. There are a lot of assumptions being made. But the way I look at it is that we should all relish whatever time we have left to see him on the floor.”
Mavericks: Close their three-game trip at the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
Wizards: At Charlotte on Friday night; the Hornets are one of the teams lingering ahead of Washington for a playoff berth.