WASHINGTON — The best habit the Mavericks have developed this season is knowing how to generate good, healthy anger, then channel that aggravation in the right way.
They lost three times in their first 12 games. And three times they fought back.
On Wednesday, it was with a score of 130-117 against the woeful Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena, quickly erasing the bad taste of Tuesday’s blowout defeat in New Orleans.
“Last year, the way it ended plays a big role in how we do things this year – after a loss, we try to do our best not to lose two in a row and don’t “I’m not going to let that affect us next game,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said.
“What we did today was win basketball. Get punched in the mouth the night before and come back to see what your true colors are.
What they showed was that they could jump out on a struggling 2-9 Washington team early, build a comfortable lead and get through the second half without any drama.
Well, at least until Hardaway took a hard fall and found himself favoring his right leg. He said afterward that he was fine, just that he couldn’t get out of the way fast enough when a wizard came to the edge.
Before that, Hardaway was on a serious roll. He had a team-high and season-high 31 points. He connected on seven of 11 three-pointers. He surpassed the NBA’s second-highest scorer, Luka Dončić, who had 26 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, showing great resilience after an unforgettable game in New Orleans.
With their rebound, the Mavericks are now 9-3. And even though their schedules have been relatively busy so far, they’re minding their own business. Of their nine victories, only one was against a team with a winning record (Brooklyn).
But they can only play against the teams listed on the schedule.
And obviously, playing angry suits them. Being really pissed was a hot topic before playing the Wizards.
“Everyone is (angry) when they lose,” coach Jason Kidd said before the game. “We are (angry) also to have lost (in New Orleans). We’ll see how it goes.
To say the least, everything went well as the Mavericks jumped hard on the Wizards from the start and never stopped expressing their ugly frustrations from the night before.
“We’re obviously going to face some more challenges, but we’re playing well,” said Seth Curry, who had 15 points on six-of-six shooting, including a four-point play that put the Mavericks up 114-90. . “It’s not just about winning. It’s how you win, how you play. Attitudes in the locker room. We are improving as the weeks go by.
“You have to go out there and stay on schedule. And there’s so much talent there, any team is capable of it every night.
But not in two games in a row, at least not yet. The Mavericks also improved to 2-0 on the second night of back-to-back games. Earlier, they played a home game followed by a visit to Orlando and beat the Magic.
It was thought that this would be a difficult consequent situation. With the time zone change, the Mavericks didn’t enter their Washington hotel room until around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
But fatigue was clearly not a problem. Dončić bounced back from his worst game of the season with one of his best. He and Hardaway combined for 43 points in the first half.
Hardaway had his highest-scoring half of the season and Luka had his NBA-best sixth 20-point half in just 12 games.
For Hardaway, it was a continuation of what has been a tremendous start to the season as he has become an early contender for Sixth Man of the Year.
“He’s been great as we talk about the sixth man,” Kidd said. “Understand what it means to us. We all know he can start. But what he does coming off the bench for us on both ends, he did for us here at the start of the season and we will need him to continue to do that. I think he’s very comfortable in what we’ve asked him to do and he’s doing it at a high level.
The Mavericks played without Kyrie Irving on the second night of back-to-back games and it didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest.
“His left foot is bothering him,” Kidd said. “It’s painful. We’re just not going to take any chances.
With Irving’s 33 minutes up for grabs, Josh Green got the start alongside Dončić in the backcourt. And the Mavericks relied more on Dante Exum. And rookie O-Max Prosper also saw significant minutes.
And it wasn’t like Washington didn’t have his own reasons to be a little irritated with life in general. They had lost three straight games in which they led in the fourth quarter. And on Monday, they were outscored 21-1 in the final 7:25 to lose 111-107.
Somehow, they weren’t as upset as the Mavericks, who went up by 25 points in the second quarter and led 71-51 at halftime.