The Dallas Mavericks decided on Wednesday night that they were going to take their foot off the throat of the Washington Wizards.
It almost turned out to be a fatal mistake, as the Wizards made a valiant comeback in the fourth quarter. However, the Mavs escaped with a 107-101 win against the winless Wizards, the only team without a win in the NBA.
Washington made a 15-0 run in the fourth quarter. The Mavs were cruising up by double digits in the third quarter, before getting pummeled by three pointers in the fourth quarter from little-used reserve Cartier Martin. Kevin Seraphin was also making shot after shot from the low block to help bring the Wizards back to within striking distance. The most troubling thing was that Washington was able to rally with nobody from their starting lineup in the game during most of crunch time
However, the Mavs got timely baskets and free throws, including a three-point play from Chris Kaman late in the fourth to finally put the game away and beat the pesky Wizards.
O.J. Mayo scored nine of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, and Kaman had 23 points and eight rebounds in his second start of the season.
Head coach Rick Carlisle inserted Kaman into the starting lineup to try to get more productive on the defensive glass. It worked, as the Mavs won the rebounding battle. Also, offensive rebounds seemed to be going in favor of the Mavs this time around, unlike past games where teams made comebacks against Dallas because of poor rebounding from the Mavs.
The Mavs are still without Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, although Marion will travel with the team to Indiana when Dallas plays the Pacers on Friday. Despite only being nine games into the season and missing their two best players, starting point Darren Collison called Wednesday night's game for Dallas a 'must-win game.'
Dallas did just that, avoiding an inexcusable loss that would have pushed their losing streak to four and their record to 4-5.
The Mavs still have work to do, including continuing to improve on the glass, while also learning how to close out games. Dallas will try to continue the momentum as they play a back-to-back on the road against the Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday and Saturday night.
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