The Washington Wizards beat the Dallas Mavericks 132-123 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. The Wizards are in a fascinating spot with just over a month left in their regular season. If they look up, there is a wide open playoff race with the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference amazingly still attainable despite all they have endured this season. If they look down, there are only a few teams that separate them from the best odds in the draft lottery.
In part because the East is so bad, the Wizards realistically pick anywhere from one to 15 in the 2019 NBA Draft. So, how you view the Wizards' win over the Mavs on Wednesday really depends on what you're rooting for.
If you want them to make the playoffs, it was a good thing. They have now won three of four and might actually be able to make a real postseason push. If you want them to have a chance at Zion Williamson, well, maybe soon you can start talking yourself into Bol Bol or Goga Bitadze, or someone else with a cool name.
The Wizards, somehow, remain very much alive. They are like Danny McBride's character in Pineapple Express. They just won't die. And they just got behind the wheel of a Daewoo Lanos.
2. It was a really, really bad night for Salah Mejri. The Mavs big man found himself on the wrong end of two vicious moves by Bradley Beal.
The first one is illegal in 12 states. Beal got past Tim Hardaway Jr. off the dribble and threw down what was probably the best poster-dunk of his career.
Somehow, Mejri survived this:
Beal just demolished a 7-footer 🤯 pic.twitter.com/gx0nV1Mkqo— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) March 7, 2019
Not long after, Mejri was left in the undesirable position of guarding Beal alone on the perimeter. It didn't go well. Beal spun him around with a crossover and swished a three.
Beal finished with 30 points, some of them louder than others. He also had eight assists and seven rebounds.
3. Troy Brown Jr. got solid rotation minutes once again. He logged 16, the fourth straight game he's played 10 or more minutes, the longest streak of his young career.
Brown again stood out and not because of his scoring, though he did put up nine points. Brown continues to impress with his instincts. He had a well-rounded line that included four rebounds and three assists.
Three of his boards were offensive rebounds. He did the same thing last game. Brown has a knack for coming out of nowhere to create an extra opportunity on offense.
Brown had some interesting match-ups with Mavs rookies. For one, he got to square off against Luka Doncic, the likely rookie of the year. Like his teammates, Brown had some trouble with the Mavs sensation, who finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds.
Brown also saw Jalen Brunson, a guy he had a legendary showdown against back in his AAU days. Brown faced off with Brunson on both ends, as he played some point guard with the second unit.
4. Brown played point guard for the bench instead of Chasson Randle, who was out of the rotation on Wednesday night. And Sam Dekker got minutes for the second straight game in lieu of Wesley Johnson.
Head coach Scott Brooks has been tinkering with his rotation in recent games, most notably with the addition of Brown. The fact he likes him at point guard is inevitably going to affect Randle. The Dekker one may have a smaller chance of being permanent.
5. The Dirk Nowitzki farewell tour that may not actually be a farewell tour stopped through for what could be the Mavs legend's final NBA game in D.C. Though no one knows if he will actually retire after this season, Nowitzki was given special treatment on Wednesday.
Fans gave him a standing ovation when he came off the bench in the first quarter. And each time he took a shot, grabbed a rebound or merely touched the ball, they cheered.
The Wizards also introduced him when he checked in with some notes on his decorated career. They listed some of his accomplishments on the jumbotron as well. Both were gestures road players don't otherwise receive.
Nowitzki only played 12 minutes and scored two points. He's far from the player he once was. But for many, just seeing him take the floor for what could be the final time was worth the price of admission.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- Showing Appreciation: John Wall stopping to admire Bradley Beal
- Another Setback: A tweak in Dwight Howard's potential return
- A Young Ray?: Beal living up to Ray Allen comparisons at this point in his career