On Saturday night in Dallas, there was a shootout between the Wizards(29-35) and Mavericks(36-27) and a shootout between Russell Westbrook and Luka Doncic.
Doncic finished with 31 points (12-23 FG), 12 rebounds, and a career-high 20 assists, while Westbrook led Washington with 42 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists, but the biggest shot of the game was made by Dorian Finney-Smith, who hit the game-winning corner three with 09.3 seconds left to lift the Mavericks over the Wizards 125-124 at American Airlines Center.
Finney-Smith finished with 22 points, and for the Wizards, Bradley Beal added 29 points.
Doncic became the fourth player in NBA history with 30-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, and 20 assists in a game. He joined Magic Johnson, Russell Westbrook, and Oscar Robertson as the only players to do so, and what was more impressive is that Doncic had only one turnover in this game.
After the game, Doncic was asked about his triple-double, and according to him, he was more impressed with the one turnover.
“I think I’m more impressed with having only one turnover,” he said. “That never happens. I was more impressed with that.”
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was impressed with the triple-double and the one turnover.
“I’m actually equally impressed with both,” Carlisle said… “I thought Luka [Dončić] ‘s poise down the stretch was spectacular. He just was very, very focused, made every single right play, and fittingly got the last rebound off the [Bradley] Beal miss. Look, everyone expects greatness from him every single night. Just think about it, at 22 years old, having that kind of expectation put on you every night. But he’s an amazing player and does an amazing job absorbing all of it.”
With the win, the Mavericks are tied with the Lakers for the fifth-seed in the Western Conference, and according to Doncic, the Mavericks are playing solid basketball right now.
“I think we’re playing better basketball now, but we’ve got to focus every game,” Doncic said. “We’ve got to come out like today and just keep having the same energy.”
If the Mavericks stay at five or six, they will play either the Nuggets(third seed) or the Clippers(fourth seed). Dallas is 2-1 against both of those teams, but who knows how much that will matter come playoff time. However, the most important thing is to avoid the seventh-seed, which keeps you out of the Play-in Tournament, and currently, Dallas has a one-game lead on the Blazers.
The Mavericks play the second game of their back-to-back on Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings, who defeated Dallas two times in April.
Back to Westbrook, this is the first time that he has missed a triple-double by one point, rebound or assist this season.
Kristaps Porzingis(knee) missed last night’s contest against the Wizards and will miss Sunday’s night game against the Kings. Porizingis hurt his knee on Thursday night against the Pistons. No timetable on his return.
Without their leading scorer Collin Sexton, the Cleveland Cavaliers traveled to D.C. to battle the red-hot Washington Wizards on Sunday night. Coming into the game, the tenth-seeded Wizards had won seven straight.
Behind the play of Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, Cleveland took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter. However, Bradley Beal scored nine of his game-high 33 points in the fourth as the Wizards defeated the Cavaliers 119-110 to win their eighth straight.
Garland had 29 points and nine assists, and Allen had a career-high 27 points to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds.
The game was tied at 108 with just under three minutes left, but Washington closed the game on a 9-2 run to cement the victory.
According to Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the team got some good looks down the stretch, but they could not knock down the shots.
“I thought we had some good looks,” Bickerstaff said. “I thought we did a really good job on some of those of penetrating and getting inside the restricted area. We didn’t convert.”
Despite the loss, the 21-year-old Garland was a bright spot for the Cavaliers. In the last five games, he is averaging 25.0 points and 7.4 assists. Bickerstaff discussed what he saw out of the second-year point guard against Washington
“He was doing it all. He was a lead guard,” Bickerstaff said. “He was asked to score, he was asked to distribute and play both ends of the floor, and I thought he was excellent tonight. Anytime you make teams have to make an adjustment on you, that means you’re doing the job. And I thought that he was great tonight in taking that load and carrying that burden.”
The Cavaliers, who have lost seven of their last nine games, are six games behind the Wizards with 12 games left. At this point, it’s going to be an uphill battle for Cleveland to make the playoffs. However, seeing Garland play at this level has to be exciting for the Cavaliers.
Both the Mavericks(27-21) and Wizards(17-31) were shorthanded on Saturday night in D.C. Washington was without their leading- scorer Bradley Beal(right hip contusion) and Rui Hachimura(shoulder), while the Mavericks were without three starters in Kristaps Porzingis(rest), Maxi Kleber(left leg injury), and Josh Richardson(left calf tightness).
With both teams depleted, it was the next man up, and the next men stepped up for Dallas. Boban Marjanovic stepped in for Porzingis and had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Tim Hardaway Jr. stepped in for Richardson and scored 16 points, and newly-acquired Nicolo Melli stepped in for Kleber to score 10 points, and of course, Luka Doncic led the way for the Mavericks with 26 points, eight rebounds, and six assists as Dallas defeated Washington 109-87.
Dallas had another solid defensive effort against Washington. On Friday night, the Mavericks held the Knicks to 86 points, and three quarters of 20 points or less, which is one of the reasons the team won, according to head coach Rick Carlisle, who returned to the bench on Saturday after a COVID-19 scare forced him to miss the win against New York.
“20 point defensive quarter in the third, 20 point defensive quarter in the fourth, and that was the key,” Carlisle said.
The Wizards(113.5 ppg) do score the basketball at a high level, and even without Beal and Hachimura in the lineup, Carlisle was still impressed with how the Mavericks defended.
“We knew that we could defend a lot better than we were the first month of the season, the first five weeks,” Carlisle said. “But, this team is showing you what’s it’s capable of. The game last night in New York, holding them in the 80s, I think it was. Tonight, holding these guys to 87. I don’t care if Beal’s out, Hachimura’s out. These guys can score.”
Dallas is starting to look like the team that many thought could possibly be when the season started. They ended their five-game road trip 4-1 and have won four straight. They have to continue to stay healthy and stay committed to playing defense.
On Monday night, the Mavericks return home to battle the team with the best record in basketball, the Utah Jazz.
On Wednesday, Russell Westbrook made his Wizards’ debut on the road against the 76ers, and while he had a triple-double(21 points, 15 assists, 11 rebounds), Washington(0-1) would fall to the 76ers(1-0) 113-107.
The 32-year-old Westbrook, who came over to Washington from Houston in the trade that sent John Wall to the Rockets earlier this month, was disappointed in himself after the game.
“Not good enough. Honestly, I’m kind of disappointed in myself,” Westbrook said. “I had some mishaps and plays where I could have been better and had a better game to try to win. I don’t like moral victories at any point in my career. I always like to go out and try to win the game. I’ve gotta be better, and I’ll be better next game.”
Last season, moral victories were acceptable for the Wizards, who won only 25 games a year ago. However, this year is a different story. With Westbrook, Bradley Beal, and Davis Bertans on the court, Washington is looking to make the playoffs, and like Westbrook, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is not interested in moral victories.
“The results matter. We’re not happy. There’s no moral victories,” Brooks said. “Last year, I thought we had just a different mindset. Not good or bad, we were just in a different place. This year, there are no moral victories. We have to come out and keep competing.”
Washington played well against the 76ers and had a legitimate chance to win the game, but they could not make the plays and get the stops down the stretch to get the victory.
In a loss, it’s clear that this team is going to put up points. Beal, who led the way with 31 points against Philadelphia, averaged 30.5 ppg last season. Also, Bertans scored 14 points, including 4-6 from downtown. He would only play 20 minutes, which was due to him being on a minutes restriction. So, scoring points won’t be an issue for Washington, especially when the team starts to gel.
On another note, we might be seeing a lot of triple-doubles out of Westbrook this season. The 12-year veteran is second in NBA history in triple-doubles(147). According to Elias Sports Bureau, Westbrook is the 6th player in NBA history with a triple-double in his team debut. With all the scoring they have on this team, Washington could offer Westbrook an opportunity for many assists. Furthermore, without a big-time rebounder on this roster(Thomas Bryant led the team with 7.2 RPG last season), Westbrook will get his rebounds, and he’s most definitely going to score. Based on this roster, if Westbrook remains healthy, he might mess around and average a triple-double this season for the fourth time in his career.
For the Washington Wizards, last season’s struggles came down to the team’s inability to defend. Washington allowed 119.1 points per game, which was 29th in the NBA. In addition, the team was 29th in opponents’ field goal percentage(48.8).
It isn’t easy to win in the NBA if you’re not defending, and Washington has to improve on that end of the court if they want to have success this season.
Conversely, on the offensive side of the court, Washington was one of the top-scoring teams in the league. In the 2019-20 season, the Wizards averaged 114.7 points a contest, which was 7th in the NBA.
Now, Washington will have more firepower with the addition of nine-time All-Star and former league MVP Russell Westbrook. You add that to what you got out of Bradley Beal last season, who was second in the NBA in points per game(30.5). Plus, they have arguably their best shooter back in Davis Bertans, who signed a five-year, $80 million contract this offseason, and was the team’s second-leading scorer last season(15.4 ppg).
With Westbrook and Beal, Bertans expects to get easier looks, and he expects the team to be tough to stop this season.
“I think it’s just going to be easier for everybody in a sense,” Bertans said on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of defensive attention toward Brad(Beal), and now having Russ(Westbrook), too. We got, I think, more shooters. Everybody improved in the summer. You can see that Rui(Hachimura) is making threes. Deni(Avidja) is a pretty good shooter, so I think, in that case, it’s going to be a lot easier for Brad and Russ to attack the rim, and the defense has to pay more attention to them, and everybody else going to be open around the perimeter. So, I think the team is built, offensively, pretty great.”
However, according to Bertans, Washington has to play better defense if they want to have a productive season.
“It’s going to be more on what we going to do on the defensive end,” Bertans said. “How we’re going to talk on defense. How hard we’re going to play on defense. That’s going to be the main differential on whether we’re going to win games or lose games.”
Defense wins championships, and Washington has to be committed to defending this season if they want to make the playoffs and contend in the Eastern Conference, which means the back end of the defense has to be better, especially C Thomas Bryant, who will be called on to anchor the defense. Adding a defensive center in Robin Lopez should help, but time will tell if it will be enough for Washington to improve on the defensive end next season.
In a move that has been rumored for weeks, the Washington Wizards have reportedly traded six-time All-Star John Wall and 2023 protected first-round pick to the Rockets for former league MVP Russell Westbrook, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Both Wall and Westbrook reportedly wanted to be traded, and if that’s true, they both got their wish. Both players have three years left on their contracts at $132 million. The 30-year-old Wall missed all of last season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. Wall will now be teamed with James Harden in Houston, which should be interesting because there were reports that Harden wanted out of Houston. However, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Houston hopes to be competitive with him this season and does not envision a scenario where Harden would be traded before the opener.
For the 32-year-old Westbrook, this is an opportunity to reunite with his former coach in OKC, Scott Brooks, and a chance for Westbrook and Bradley Beal to lead the Wizards back to the playoffs, which should happen for Washington.
Both players probably needed a change of scenery, and both players will have a lot to prove. Is Russell Westbrook, who averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game last season, a declining asset? For Wall, can he become the player that he used to be before the injuries?
Time will tell.
With the ninth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards selected Israel’s Deni Avdija, the first Israeli born player to be drafted in the lottery. The 19-year-old forward has been a professional in Israel since the age of 16, so while he young, he does have some experience.
While in Israel, the 6-9 Avdija played small forward, but he has shown the ability to handle the ball, and some believe he could be a point forward at the NBA level. And when it’s all said, Avdija hopes to work hard and maximize his talents.
When asked what his goals are in the NBA, Avdija said the following.
“First of all, to bring my work ethic from back here. Just keep improving every day, be a better player every day, help the team as much as I can. At the end of my career to look at it and say I was the best Deni Avdija I could be, and I don’t regret anything. It’s a great journey ahead of me, and I’m super excited.”
Avdija’s father, Zufer, played professionally in Serbia and Israel in the 1980s, and according to Avdija, he has learned a lot from his father.
“It was great. It was great to have another competitive spirit in the house,” Avdija said. “He was a great player himself, so he had a lot of good things to teach me and teach me how to act on the court, some small tricks maybe in my game that I use that he used, and just how to be a professional, how to work hard, how to have good work ethic, and just always be competitive and just play to win. That was big for me.”
Next season, the Wizards are expected to have their dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal back together, which will help immensely. According to Avdija, the Wizards have a talented team.
“I think it’s very talented,” Avdija said. “I’m ready to meet everybody and get straight to work. Hopefully, we can grind and have a good season. I’m just going to bring the best for the team, and hopefully, we can win as many games as we can.”
Don’t expect Avdija to come into the NBA and contribute right away. He’s a young player, so it will take time for him to develop. In the end, this pick was not about today; it’s about tomorrow.
Troy Brown Jr. got his chance on Tuesday night to start at point guard for the Washington Wizards against the Milwaukee Bucks, and just like a lot things for the Wizards in Orlando, it was a learning experience.
The 21-year-old Brown, who played point guard in high school, struggled at that position against Milwaukee, and the Wizards’ offense did not have much of a flow. Brown finished the game 3-15 from the field with nine points, six rebounds, and three assists in 30 minutes. The second-year player has played well in the bubble, but Tuesday night’s performance, which ended with the Bucks winning 126-113, was a very forgettable night for Brown.
With the loss, the Wizards are 0-7 in Orlando. The team has one more chance to get a victory when they battle the Celtics on Thursday.
After the game, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks assessed Brown’s performance against Milwaukee.
“He got a learning experience, and sometimes it happens that way,” Brooks said. “He didn’t play well; we didn’t have a good start. I’m not throwing it all on him. We just didn’t have any rhythm. We have some decisions to make on some of the things that we do.
“I’m not going to judge Troy off of one game. He didn’t have a good shooting game. He just didn’t have a good feel for the game tonight for some reason. I know being a bad, former point guard, there’s so many things; there’s so many intangibles, and there’s so many things that you’ve done your entire life, so the instincts just come out. Troy does not have that right now at that position.”
Brown has a lot to learn in the NBA. Rarely do players in the league get the opportunity these young Wizards’ players have in Orlando, and no matter their record, this learning experience will be beneficial for Brown and the Wizards moving forward.
In every game in Orlando, the Washington Wizards have played hard, but on Sunday, at times, the energy was not there against Oklahoma City. Behind Darius Bazley’s 23 points and Danilo Gallinari’s 20, OKC would beat Washington 121-103. Washington(24-46) is now 0-6 in Orlando.
Oklahoma City(43-26) was without Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel on Sunday, but it didn’t matter. The Thunder were up by nine after one and pushed the lead to 16 at halftime. Washington was never in this contest and trailed by as much as 22 points. For the Wizards, Jerome Robinson led the way with 19 points off the bench.
“The name of the game is to win,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said after the game “We are all in it to win. We haven’t won a game, but we’re still going to teach, and we’re still going grow, and we’re still going work on the correct habits. That’s what we’re all here to do..
“I thought our guys competed. It’s about working on the right habits; we been doing that. I would like to see all of us get rewarded in the next two games.”
Washington has two games left against Milwaukee and Boston. Both of those teams have secured their playoff spots. Boston is locked in the third seed, and the Bucks have clinched the number one seed in the East. Therefore, if you see Milwaukee and Boston’s starters, it might not be for long, so hopefully, for Washington, they can get one or both of the final two games.
Oklahoma City matched a season-high with 18 three-pointers made against Washington on Sunday.
-Isaac Bonga played well for the Wizards on Sunday. He was active and finished the game with 14 points and 8 rebounds.
-Wizards G Shabazz Napier missed Sunday’s game against the Thunder with a high ankle sprain.
-Washington gets back at it on Tuesday against the Bucks.