Story By: Erin Zollars
Photos By: Sol Tucker
You may have looked around Capital One Arena tonight and saw a lot of Dallas jerseys floating around, most of then with 41 on the back. Tonight was the night where the Wizards said their farewell to Dirk Nowitzki and they did so with a solid team victory 132-123 over the Mavericks.
Nowitzki, who appeared in just 12 minutes scored 2 points, on a trip to the line. Fans in the final minutes were chaning ” We Want Dirk,” same as many other arenas have been shouting in the final minutes of games as he makes the final trip around the NBA.
Rookie star Luka Doncic (31 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) and Justin Jackson hit for 18 points off the bench to give the Mavs an early advantage, but in the second half the Wizards grabbed some big defensive rebounds that led to closing the gap and Doncic missing on a few key shots with less than 1:00 remaining gave the Wizards all they needed to control the remainder of the game.
The Wizards finally have gotten their team together for what may be the final push towards the playoffs and they did it with a solid mix of scoring and rebounding in this game, something that has been missing from quite a few games this season.
Washington is now 17-3 on the season when they win or split the rebounding battle.
“We don’t do it [outrebound opponents] enough,” said head coach Scott Brooks. “We have to rebound, we have to make them miss and rebound. Our record shows that we are 14-2 when we outrebound teams, and we did it tonight. Luka [Doncic] is pretty good. He’s hard to stop. He goes where he wants to get to, he’s strong bodied, he gets to the free-throw line and he makes plays. I thought we did a pretty good job on him. We made him miss a lot of shots. That was a good thing.”
Bradley Beal continued to make things happen for the Wizards, getting the points when they needed separation late in the game. His 30 points to lead the way for the Wizards paved the way for six of the Wizards players to hit in double figures and put energy back into the locker room they need to make a playoff push. Beal was asked after the game about their chances.
“Yes, we are in it,” said Bradley Beal. “That is where we are. Our goal is to make the playoffs until the fat lady sings at the end of the year. We have to keep pushing forward and take it a game at a time. We try to go week-by-week. Try to get four games every week. So far we are 2-0, and we have 18 more games left or so maybe less, so we just have to make sure we are ready to go. We still have a great opportunity in front of us. We can win a lot of games and make some noise down the stretch.”