Wizards vs. Mavericks: Nowitzki helps Mavs send Wizards to 0-24 on road this season

Rookie John Wall, driving to the basket in the opening half, contributed 17 points and 10 assists for Washington, which trailed only 95-91 before Dallas pulled away in the closing stages.
Rookie John Wall, driving to the basket in the opening half, contributed 17 points and 10 assists for Washington, which trailed only 95-91 before Dallas pulled away in the closing stages. (Mike Fuentes)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

DALLAS - The Washington Wizards' season-long road losing streak has become a burden for several reasons. The players cannot escape the questions, the pain that comes with each defeat or being the butt of jokes. But as the losses grow, so does the awareness of their foes. The Wizards don't have the luxury of other bad teams to sneak into visiting arenas and get overlooked.

On most nights, they are guaranteed that their opponents, even elite teams, give one of their best efforts simply because they don't want to be a part of history.

At the morning shoot-around, several Dallas Mavericks players, including former Wizard DeShawn Stevenson spoke about how they didn't want to be the team that allowed the Wizards to end their road misery. "No way," Stevenson said. "We got to keep that streak going."

After a 102-92 loss to the Mavericks at American Airlines Center, the Wizards are now 0-24 away from home as they battled through a poor shooting night to be in position for a possible upset until Jason Kidd put them away with a three-pointer with 49 seconds to play.

Nick Young and Rashard Lewis both scored 18 points and No. 1 overall pick John Wall had 17 points and 10 assists, but the Wizards were unable to overcome the sharp shooting of Dirk Nowitzi, who scored a game-high 24 points, and the interior presence of Tyson Chandler, who had 18 points and 18 rebounds.

Andray Blatche had a rough game shooting from the field (4 of 17), but collected 13 rebounds. He also got to the foul line, where he got eight of his 16 points, but he got pounded in the process. After attempting one free throw, Blatche hunched over and took several seconds to gather himself.

Yi Jianlian came off the bench to score 14 points with 11 rebounds for the Wizards, who will end their four-game trip in New Orleans on Tuesday.

JaVale McGee returned after missing the past two games with a bad case of the flu. McGee joined the team on Sunday in Dallas, but came off the bench, with Coach Flip Saunders electing to keep Trevor Booker in the starting lineup. Booker had averaged 16.5 points and 12 rebounds against Oklahoma City and Memphis, but he was unable to have any influence against Dallas as he was saddled with fouls. Booker didn't score and had three rebounds and four fouls.

Aside from catching an alley-oop pass from Wall, McGee also appeared to be limited as he had just two points and three rebounds in 13 minutes.

The Wizards trailed, 87-81, after Blatche made two free throws, but Nowitzki got fouled while making a layup. Saunders got upset and picked up a technical foul after arguing that Nowitzki had a clear path to the basket because Mavericks reserve Ian Mahinmi had set an illegal screen. Nowitzki made the technical foul and converted the three-point play as the Mavericks came away with four points on the possession and led by 10.

Wall brought the Wizards within five shortly thereafter when he made a desperation three-pointer with the shot clock winding down. Wall celebrated by flashing three fingers up with his hands and he laughed at his good fortune.

Yi had a rebound put-back dunk to bring the Wizards within 95-91. Nowitzki responded with a pullup jumper and the Wizards could not draw closer as Young and Wall combined to miss three of four free throws.

The Mavericks put it out of reach when Kidd (11 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds) missed a three-pointer that bounded over the backboard. The Mavericks recovered the ball and Kidd made down his next attempt.

Yi gave the Wizards a 37-25 lead when hit an 18-foot jumper from the baseline, but Nowitzki scored seven consecutive points, before Yi made another long jumper. But the Mavericks continued to charge ahead as the Wizards struggled to make shots. Kidd gave the Mavericks a one-point lead when he hit a three-pointer and, after a free throw trade off, the Wizards trailed 50-49 at the break.

Wall came out energized from the start, as he quickly got to the rim for layups three times and even hit a pullup jumper. He had 10 points in the first half and he also had five assists, including a impressive bounce pass to Al Thornton for a layup.

Yi came off the bench and provided some quality minutes, as he scored eight points and added six rebounds. His offense was needed in the first half, as Blatche struggled with his shot. Blatche missed 9 of 10 from the floor in the first half, missing jumpers and other shots close to the basket. Young also had a rough time shooting the ball in the first half, as he shot 2 of 9 and scored just five points.

Lewis helped carry the load offensively in the first half, as he made two three-pointers and scored 13 points.

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