DALLAS -- After three consecutive losses, the Mavericks can’t complain too much about putting one in the left-hand column.
But the Mavs sure weren’t going to act like it was a thing of beauty.
The Mavs managed to turn a blowout over the winless Washington Wizards into a nail-biter. They held on for a 107-101 win, but they let the Wizards slice a 22-point lead to three late in the game.
“We snuck that win out,” center Chris Kaman said after his 23-point, eight-rebound outing. “We didn’t really deserve to win that game there, but fortunately we did.”
The fourth quarter was a defensive debacle for Dallas. The Wizards scored 34 points on 14-of-19 shooting in the frame.
Washington had only three players score in the fourth, all reserves. Big man Kevin Seraphin had 14 of his 16 points, making all seven of his shots from the floor, most of which were over Kaman. Swingman Cartier Martin added 14 points -– or twice his total all season long before that point. And Jordan Crawford scored the other six.
“We should have won by 25 or 30,” Kaman said. “That’s the bottom line. But it’s part of the deal. I’m happy we dug the win out, but it didn’t give us any hope for the next game. It didn’t make us say, ‘Hey, we played really well.’ We didn’t. We played well for three quarters. We need a whole game, 48 minutes of effort.”
Added coach Rick Carlisle: “It’s obvious that we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ streakbuster:
1. Washington whining: Wizards coach Randy Wittman, who just happens to share a college alma mater with Mark Cuban, spent the first couple of minutes of halftime complaining to referee Tom Washington.
Wittman was particularly upset at the time that Kaman wasn’t whistled for a foul when he rejected rookie guard Bradley Beal’s attempted dunk, but the Washington coach’s frustration clearly runs much deeper than one possession. He was pretty fired up about the Mavs’ 33-11 edge in free throws attempted.
“For whatever reason, this team doesn’t get any respect,” Wittman said. “We go to the rim and had 11 free throws tonight. These young guys just have to make a name for themselves, and it’s just baffling some of the things that are said to me by the refs for why they don’t call it.
“So maybe we just have to send the game film every day to the league.”
2. Sarge in charge: The two new starters weren’t the only significant changes to Carlisle’s rotation. Brandan Wright went from starting to the end of the bench, with second-round rookie Bernard “Sarge” James getting all the backup center minutes.
James had four points and three rebounds in 15 minutes. Carlisle said that role would be determined on a game to game basis, but the coach likes the energy and toughness James brings to the table.
“He’ll bang and go after the ball and he won’t get punked underneath the basket,” Carlisle said. “Those are important things.”
3. Crowder delivers after demotion: Give rookie Jae Crowder credit for producing, not pouting, after he was stripped of his starting role.
Crowder set season highs in points (12) and assists (3) in 21 minutes off the bench. The Mavs outscored the Wizards by 13 with him on the floor.
“Crowder stepped up in a big way off the bench,” Carlisle said. “That was key.”