Recap: The Washington Wizards started the New Year on a bad note, losing to the Dallas Mavericks 94-103. The Wizards dominated the first quarter, with a strong performance by Bradley Beal buoyed by absolute Wizards domination of the boards, but a late second quarter run eliminated much of the Wizards’ lead. They then proceeded to get outscored by the Mavericks 35-19 in the third quarter, after which they never really sniffed victory.
The Wizards now head to Indiana to take on Roy Hibbert and the Pacers tomorrow. Hopefully, they’ll have better luck there.
Four factors: Via Basketball-Reference, Dean Oliver identifies in his book “Basketball on Paper” what he called “The Four Factors of Basketball Success”. Instead of calculating Oliver’s formula for each factor, I plan to use each factor as a springboard for a larger discussion:
- Shooting: It doesn’t matter what team you’re playing, if you let the other team shoot 50% from the floor and 45% from the three point line, you’re going have trouble winning a game. When Vince Carter is the primary driver of that efficiency after shooting 9-14 and the year is not 2002, you’re going to have trouble going to sleep at night. In other news, the Wizards FG% regressed from the past couple of games back to the still shockingly low 40.5%. Silver lining? The Wizards shot 38.5 from the three point line, mostly on the back of a strong shooting night by Bradley Beal. Edge: Mavericks.
- Turnovers: The Wizards committed 4 more turnovers than the Mavericks, but the Mavericks only scored three more points off turnovers then the Wizards. Still, the Wizards getting outscored 20-12 in fast break points speaks to the Wizards transition defense, which has been bad for several games and needs to get better. Edge: Slight Mavericks.
- Rebounding: The Wizards outrebounded the Mavericks, but the simple fact it was as close as it was speaks to the how dreadful the Wizards were at rebounding in the final three quarters. The Wizards came down with 9 offensive rebounds and 20 total rebounds in the first quarter. For the next two quarters however, the Mavericks chipped away at the Wizards advantage on the boards, and the Wizards didn’t register another offensive rebound until the 4th quarter. The Wizards beat the Mavericks on the boards, but against the worst rebounding team in the league, they needed to do more. Edge: Slight Wizards.
- Free Throws: Wizards continued their recent improvement at getting to the line, getting 26 Free Throws on the game, 9 more than Dallas. While they only shot 75% while there, it is clearly quite the turnaround from their earlier games. Getting to the line is one of the best ways to mitigate personal deficiencies, so I hope the Wizards keep it up. Edge: Wizards.
The Mavericks came into Washington on a six game losing streak, but hot Mavericks shooting and bad defense ended up dooming any Wizards chance for a victory. It was another disappointing loss for the Wizards, where it looked like there was some hope for a Wizards victory after going into the half with a lead. But hey, if Vince Carter drops 23 points on 64% shooting, you probably deserve to lose.
- Bradley Beal was one of the bright spots tonight. There were three things that I really liked out of Beal tonight. He was aggressive and active, especially in the first half. He was incredible from beyond the arc, going 4-7. And he took a team high 7 free throws. Even though he was only 3 for 9 from two, Beal finding his stroke from deep is one of the most important aspects to this already lost season.
- I still don’t have the best concept of what is expected of a player of Emeka Okafor’s contract, but he has been playing fantastically through December and today. He remains one of the largest reasons for the Wizards average defensive efficiency, and is better than advertised on the offensive end. That remained true tonight, where he registered a double double on 50 percent shooting.
- I’m skeptical that Randy Wittman “just can’t find minutes” for Chris Singleton. Especially on a night like tonight, where Martell Webster wasn’t playing particularly well or hitting three pointers.
- Kevin Seraphin was scored 10 points on 50% shooting, so it wasn’t a particularly bad game, but he really needs to start bringing more to the table then just scoring. If you can’t hit a three and aren’t a good rebounder, it’s going to be tough to get a starting role as power forward in the NBA.
- Was a weird off game for Nene. He’s been playing really well lately, and I expect a bad game once in a while.
- Tip of my hat to…Vince Carter, who turned the clock back to 2002, Dirk Nowitzki, for being healthy again even at the expense of the Wizards, and to Jae Crowder, for not filling my twitter feed of Wizards fans complaining by having a really bad game.