KCP explodes for season-best 35 points in win over Mavericks


For how much the ball moved Friday for the Wizards, there weren’t any areas to nitpick. 

In a dominating 135-103 win over the Mavericks at Capital One Arena, the Wizards shot 54.4% from the field and 51.5% from 3-point range. They tallied more than 30 assists for the second-straight game and third time in four nights. And at the center of it all, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had his best scoring night in Washington. 

“He got going early, he didn’t force the issue, just took advantage of the shots that were presented to him,” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Then once he sees a couple go in, now he’s shooting into a big basket. He’s had nights like that throughout his career. You get hot like that, it’s good to take a heat-check. The ball keeps going in, those are great momentum plays for us and they’re backbreaking for the defense.”

Caldwell-Pope had 35 points as his torrid 3-point shooting carried the Wizards to a 17-of-33 mark from beyond the arc for the night. It was the second-best 3-point shooting night of the year, percentage-wise, for the Wizards this season. 

“Everybody was on the same page,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We just had a great carryover from shootaround, everybody still was focused, everybody played for one another. It was just great. The ball was moving, we were just out there having fun and enjoying playing basketball.”

There were a few moments of shine for Caldwell-Pope, like in the fourth quarter when he scored 12 points to put the finishing touches on a much-needed and sought after win for the Wizards. 


The hot shooting by Caldwell-Pope, as he referenced, was a symptom of the good ball movement by the Wizards over the last few games. They’ve won four of their last five games and have shot better than 50% from the field in three of those games. 

“Just playing free, the ball is moving,” Caldwell-Pope said. “It’s not sticking just with one person, I think this was the second night we had 30-plus assists. The ball’s moving, everyone is just out there having fun and playing for each other.”

Against the Mavericks, the Wizards turned the ball over just nine times, three of which came in a one-minute stretch at the end of the third quarter. Those turnovers were dead-ball turnovers, which didn’t lead to scoring opportunities in transition the other way for the Mavericks.

“Of course we talk about it, a lot of it is our spacing, the timing or lack thereof that usually lends to those turnovers,” Unseld said. “That stretch of turnovers, there was no one trying to press the issue. It wasn’t anything where guys are playing in crowds, or we weren’t necessarily organized. The fact that we can recover from that was a good sign.”

While the Wizards have officially been eliminated from postseason contention, the way the ball has moved (and found its way into the hands of players expected to be key contributors next season) is certainly a welcome sign. 

And on the nights when Caldwell-Pope can add in 35, that’s just a bonus.

“It’s easier to say when the ball goes in, but we’ve done a decent job defensively over this stretch,” Unseld said. “But I think a lot of that is our ball movement, which has helped our overall offensive efficiency. Another night we’ve had 30+ assists, that’s a winning formula. Everybody’s touching it, the ball’s moving, and when it happens it puts a lot of pressure on the defense.”