Johnson: Wizards slip to 0-24 on the road

Johnson: Wizards slip to 0-24 on the road
February 1, 2011, 4:23 am
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Monday, January 31, 2011 11:19 p.m.
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By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comDallas---In this football-crazed city ready to celebrate the Super Bowl, the Washington Wizards had a real chance to steal some of the spotlight and shed their road losing streak. Instead the Wizards dropped to 0-24 away from Verizon Center with a 102-92 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.In some ways a ten-point loss doesnt makes sense. The Wizards only had 7 turnovers, were competitive on the boards, and like the Mavericks made 34 field goals and missed 12 free throws. Still with Dirk Nowitzki leading the way with 24 points, the Mavericks made the critical plays at critical moments.Jason Kidd, who had a double-double with 11 points and 11 assists, delivered the knockout blow on a controversial three pointer to give the Mavericks a 100-92 lead with 49 seconds remaining in the game. Kidds made three came after his attempt from 22 feet went over the top of the backboard, but was not ruled out of bounds.Instead of Wizards possession, Tyson Chandler pulled down his season high 18th rebounds to set up Kidds heartbreaker. Chandler also had 18 points to help the Mavericks earn their fifth straight win and hold off a Wizards team that kept the game in doubt until the final minutes.Its tough when you struggle and put yourselves in a position, said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. Key calls can change the complexion on the game. Youre looking to get a break and there were some obvious ones and you hope to get them. But we didnt get them. Our guys fought through.Rashard Lewis scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half to help the Wizards off to a dream start. The Wizards are at their best in transition and it showed when John Wall grabbed a rebound off a Jose Barea miss and then found Lewis open on the break for a three point shot to give the Wizards a 35-23 lead.The Wizards also scored 12 points off 8 Mavericks turnovers in the first half, but were never able to get a lead bigger than 12 points. While Wall had 10 of his 17 points in the opening two quarters, Nick Yong and Andray Blatche struggled to get going and at half-time combined for only 11 points on 3 of 19 shooting from the field.Despite the Wizards strong start, the Mavericks still managed to navigate their way to a 50-49 half-time lead. Then in the third quarter the Mavericks 3-2 zone defense created problems and the Wizards struggled in a half-court offense and shot only 30 percent from the field.The difficulty on offense did not dim the Wizards determination. Young shined above the Wizards bad third quarter to score 10 of his 18 points. Blatche also recovered for a better second half and managed to carve out a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.Off the bench Yi Jianlian stepped up to have his most complete game in a Wizards uniform. Yi mixed and outside jump-shots with aggressive put-back to score 14 points. In addition Yi had 11 rebounds and was tenacious on defense.While JaVale McGee returned to the team after a two-game absence with the flu, Trevor Booker made his third consecutive start. Foul trouble limited Booker and he was held scoreless with only 3 rebounds. McGee only bucket came on a dramatic over-the-shoulder slam with his back to the basket to bring the Wizards to within 6 points at 76-70.The Wizards had plenty of fight, but timing is everything. With less than three minutes to play the Wizards had the ball with a chance to slice away at a 95-91 deficit. Instead a miscue between Wall and Blatche resulted in a turnover. The Mavericks then closed the game on a 7-1 run over the final 2:13.Weve been very aggressive, weve been competitive, and weve just been working hard, except for that Memphis game when we didnt come with a lot of effort, Blatche said. Besides that were getting better. Were putting ourselves in better situations instead of being down late in the game and things not going our way.