Thanks in large part to strong offensive performances from Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr., the Washington Wizards fell to the Dallas Mavericks 130-117 in a fast-paced offensive battle.
Heading into this game, the Wizards knew containing Luka Doncic would be a tall task. He’s one of the best players in the league and one of the toughest guys to gameplan for. No matter what opposing defenses throw at him, he seemingly always has an answer, and that was the case in the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game. Right off the initial whistle, Doncic controlled the flow, despite the Wizards’ best efforts to thwart his momentum. In a bounce-back performance from a less-than-impressive Tuesday night in New Orleans, Doncic racked up 13 points in the first six minutes of the opening quarter.
For the rest of the game, the Mavericks’ offense continued to roll. The Wizards were generating high-quality opportunities on offense but couldn’t string together enough stops to get themselves back into the game. Doncic finished the night with 26 points and 10 assists, while Hardaway Jr. dropped a game-high 31 off the bench.
“At times I think we did some good things,” said Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. “Forced them to make tough shots over contests. You can live with some of that.”
Bilal Coulibaly and Deni Avdija gave particularly encouraging performances on both ends of the court given they had the tough task of defending Doncic for most of the game. Avdija has some experience guarding Doncic for the last few seasons, while this was Coulibaly’s first opportunity. There were some learning opportunities for the rookie as one could expect going up against one of the toughest offensive players in the league, but overall, he held his own. At one point in the fourth quarter, he even stood Doncic up and blocked his three-point attempt before leaking out for the alley-oop in transition.
Coulibaly finished the game with 10 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, while Avdija dropped 15 points of his own and added four assists, three rebounds, and three blocks. Those two players combined to shoot 9-of-11 from the field, 5-of-6 from deep, and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. In addition to Coulibaly and Avdija, six other Wizards scored in double figures, including Kyle Kuzma with a game-high 22 points.
The Wizards are back in action Friday night in D.C.
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