This loss could not be pinned on the Wizards’ defense. The Mavericks shot 44.4 percent overall and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc, a drop from the 39.3 percent they have been hitting from deep over their past 10 games.
But Washington was missing Beal’s gravitational pull, as Coach Scott Brooks calls it — a player other than Westbrook with the ability to draw the opposing defense’s attention on every position.
“We’ve got to make some shots. It’s no question. We look back every game, we’re missing some wide-open looks,” Brooks said. “I know we’ve got a lot of good offensive players off the floor, and hopefully they’re back soon. Hopefully Rui’s back next game. Hopefully Brad’s back next game. I don’t know when they will be back, but let’s hope. That helps. That opens up a lot of things, and it takes some of the pressure off Russell of making a play every time down the court because they’re packing the lane. Let’s face it. They’ve got three guys in the lane. If we can generate some threes and some opportunities in transition, we give ourselves a better chance.”
Washington also gave up 23 points off 14 turnovers and sent Dallas to the foul line 24 times, a surefire way for the Mavericks to make up for their struggles from deep.
Westbrook led the Wizards with 26 points on 11-for-24 shooting in 37 minutes. He also grabbed 14 rebounds and handed out five assists.
For much of the night, Lopez was his second-in-command, scoring 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting and grabbing four rebounds. Backup point guard Raul Neto added 16 points, the bulk of which came after the Mavericks pulled away late. Dallas outscored Washington 34-20 in the final quarter.
Luka Doncic led six Mavericks (27-21) in double figures with 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists and made 12 of 24 from the field. Jalen Brunson added 19 off the bench.
Hachimura’s absence surprised Brooks, who said the 23-year-old was feeling sore in Thursday’s game. Brooks wasn’t informed Hachimura needed to sit out until close to tip off and was not sure how much time might need to miss.
In his stead, Brooks put forward Davis Bertans back into the starting lineup in his first game since he strained his right calf March 18. Bertans scored 11 points, making 3 of 8 from three.
Backup point guard Ish Smith had been out even longer, since Feb. 12 with a quadriceps injury, but he also was back Saturday for the first five-on-five basketball he has played in more than six weeks because of the Wizards’ limited practice time. Some rust showed — he went 0 for 3 from the field, picked up four fouls in his first 11 minutes on court and scored five points in 23 minutes.
With scoring options slim even with the sharpshooting Bertans back, Lopez stepped up with a 10-point second quarter that kept the game close. His dependability with a hook shot in the lane made a big difference as the Wizards’ made just 2 of 8 from three before halftime.
Despite trailing by just eight at the start of the fourth, the Wizards quickly found themselves down 14 and never threatened the rest of the way.
“We have to get out swagger back, our confidence back — especially the kind of swagger and confidence we had in that eight-game winning streak,” Smith said. “Even if you’re just building each other up, encouraging each other, talking a little trash to the other team, whatever the case is, we’ve got to get that swagger back. . . . We have to figure it out, and we have to figure it out fast. We will. We will.”