Game Notes: Dallas vs. Washington

  • After the first preseason game that saw Gilbert Arenas score only five points  and dish out ten assists, Flip Saunders mentioned that he wanted him to be a bit more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor.  In nearly 10 minutes of play in the first half of tonight’s game, Arenas still did not look to shoot at all, but he did dish out four assists.  At one point in the first quarter, he drove the ball two feet from the basket, stopped and turned around in the lane, then kicked it back out to the perimeter.  It was a completely different story in the third quarter.   Arenas was much more aggressive, as he shot 6-for-6 and scored 12 points to go along with four assists.  Unfortunately, he also had four turnovers, and on many occasions he  neglected open teammates. After the game, Coach Saunders mentioned that ideally he’d like to see more of a balance from Arenas.   “He needs to get that aggressiveness…if he is open and he doesn’t shoot, the next guy he passes it to is probably going to be covered.” Arenas’ final numbers:  12 points, nine assists and five turnovers in 21 minutes of play.
  • Brendan Haywood played nearly seven minutes in the first quarter, and had four points and five rebounds before leaving with a sprained ankle with 4:04 left in the quarter.    Although the Wizards were trailing when he left the game, Haywood had still been a significant presence in the middle prior to his exit, particularly on the defensive end.  When he was no longer in the game, the combination of Fabricio Oberto, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche did not do as good of a job protecting the basket.  Dallas players were able to get to the rim at will, there seemed to be a series of miscommunications, and the Wizards big men (lead by Blatche) picked up careless fouls.  The only negative about Haywood’s performance?  He went 0-for-6 from the free throw line.
  • Speaking of  Fabricio Oberto, he consistently looked a step slow while he was in the game.  His rotations were off, his rebounding was relatively non-existent, and he seemed to be a bit out of shape.  When I spoke with fellow Wizards blogger, Kyle from Truth About It, he mentioned that Oberto was able to do only limited conditioning after his heart surgery earlier in the summer, and he was still trying to play his way into shape.  This means we may see more of JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche as backups to Brendan Haywood.
  • Mike James, who was noticeably upset when he did not play at all during the Wizards initial preseason game, did get into the game this evening. He scored two points and handed out three assists in just nine minutes of play, and although he made a concerted effort to drive and get to the basket every time down the floor, he was not always under control.    He did not play at all in the second half.
  • The shooting guard position is still up for grabs according to Saunders, and tonight he choose to start DeShawn Stevenson.  Stevenson was a relative non-factor this evening with five points and four assists, although in his defense, Arenas had him wide open at several points during the third quarter, and did not pass to him.  Still, Stevenson lacked the aggressiveness as a starter that Nick Young showed on Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies.  It will be interesting to see who starts at shooting guard on Sunday against Toronto.
  • The Mavericks starting lineup tonight did not include forward Josh Howard, who is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery.  Howard participated in the shootaround, and did some light drills with former Mavericks guard Darrell Armstrong.  When Coach Rick Carlisle was asked when Howard would get back on the court, he simply said, “Stay tuned.”
  • Caron Butler finished with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and he did all of his damage in the first half, when he was seemingly the only player in an offensive rhythm.  At times during the first half, it seemed like he was breaking the natural flow of the offense to get his points.  When Arenas got going offensively in the third quarter, Butler was relegated to the role of spectator.  Mike Miller made a point to mention after the game that everyone is still learning and trying to find their comfort level.  While this is certainly true with all the Wizards, it is especially important that the Big 3 of Butler, Arenas and Jamison are in sync if the Wizards are going to do well this season.  They combined for just 50 points tonight.
  • There were several points during tonight’s game when the Wizards defensive rotations and switches resembled last year’s 19-63 team.  There were numerous times during the game when Mavericks’ players were left wide open and the Wizards players were nowhere to be found.  There were other instances when the Wizards would reach and fall for head fakes, which led them to collect petty fouls.  Coach Saunders said after the game that players were over-helping and over-rotating, and that it would take some time for everyone to feel completely comfortable.  When the Wizards switched to the matchup zone in the fourth quarter, their defense looked a lot more cohesive, and they were finally able to get some stops.  The Wizards allowed 33, 32 and 38 points through the first three quarters, and just 20 in the last quarter.  The matchup zone may be something for the Wizards to consider much earlier.
  • Mavericks guard Rodrigue Beaubois is going to be a young player to watch this season. In 20 minutes of play, he amassed 14 points, 3 assists and 3 steals, and he was able to get by Wizards players and into the lane at will.  He and Jose Barea manned the backcourt for the Mavericks much of the fourth quarter, and they gave Nick Young, Mike Miller and Randy Foye fits.  Still, the quickness of Beaubois definitely stuck out, and I would not be at all surprised to see him backing up Jason Kidd by the end of the season. As Carlise said after the game, “He was aggressive but under control, it was an opportunity for him to play with our veterans, and it will make the game easier for him.  He is a terrific kid that loves to play and he fits into our culture very well.”
  • The replacement referees will be under tremendous scrutiny this season  by players and coaches alike and this game was no different.  Arenas drew a questionable offensive foul in the 3rd quarter, and he let the referee know he was not at all happy about it.
  • I met Mavericks owner Mark Cuban before the game, as he sat and joked around with Josh Howard.  It is fair to say that I have never shaken hands or been that close to someone so wealthy.  Good times indeed.

Final score:   Mavericks 123 , Wizards 115

About the Author

Rashad Mobley Rashad Mobley is a senior writer for Hoops Addict who has covered the Washington Wizards with media credentials since the 2008-2009 NBA season. He has appeared on Fox Sports Radio and KRNU 90.3.