WASHINGTON, D.C. – You could hear a pin drop in Dallas when Dirk Nowitzki struggled to limp off the court and to the locker room, rolling his ankle with 7:56 left to play. After more than four minutes, the Big German finally came back to the bench and returned to the court, helping the Mavericks stave off the much-improved Washington Wizards, 105-102 in D.C. on Nov. 19.
Monta Ellis scored 24 of his season-high 34 points in the first half while J.J. Barea and Brandan Wright combine for 18 of the team’s 29 fourth-quarter points.
Trailing 95-94 with 2:37 left, Barea scored five quick points before dishing it to Nowitzki, who just returned, for a 25-foot 3-pointer to give the Mavericks a five-point lead with 1:20 to play.
The Mavericks (9-3) would hit three free throws down the stretch to earn their ninth-straight win over the Wizards and fifth overall.
With Dallas up 84-77, the Wizards would go on an 8-0 run in a fourth quarter that saw 10 lead changes in a 5:22 span.
Bradley Beal made his season debut, scoring a team-high 21 points on 9 for 17 shooting (3 for 6 from three) in 26 minutes off the bench.
The Mavericks struggled out the gate, missing five of their first six shots and committed two turnovers, for a team that led the league with just 10.5 turnovers a game, trailing 8-2 early on. Dallas would go on a 10-2 run to tie it at 16-all while Washington used an 11-3 run, fueled by Marcin Gortat’s five points to gain momentum at the end of the first, 29-23.
Ellis scored 14 points on 6 for 7 shooting in the opening quarter while the rest of the team had just five points on 1 for 12.
Dallas kept it close in the second quarter before scoring seven straight to get within 43-41, but Paul Pierce led the Wizards in the quarter with 13 in a 10-minute span and went into halftime with 17 points on 6 for 8 shooting.
Ellis made four free throws down the stretch, helping the Mavericks take a 54-53 lead into the break.
Nowitzki, who finished with 13 points, hit a three with 10:36 left in the third to cap off a 9-0 run for Dallas, giving the Mavericks their first 10-point lead, but Washington was far from beaten.
Chandler Parsons made a three to give Dallas an eight-point lead, but Pierce’s three cut it to two nearly three minutes later.
John Wall tied it at 67-all before Parsons hit another three to give the Mavs a 70-67 lead.
Wall and Beal hit jumpers to give the Wizards a one-point lead before Barea and Wright helped the Mavericks take a 76-73 into the final frame.
Wright had two-consecutive alley-oop and-1 dunks from Barea to begin the fourth, helping the Mavs go 25 for 29 from the free-throw line, compared to 21 attempts from the hometown Wizards.
Ellis finished 12 for 14 from the charity stripe while former Maverick Kris Humphries surprisingly led Washington at 7 for 8.
The Mavericks barely outrebounded Washington 44-42, thanks to Tyson Chandler’s season-high-tying 16 boards. He added five points and three blocks.
Wright and Barea sparked the bench as the Mavs were without Devin Harris (ankle) and Raymond Felton (suspension). Barea added six dimes and four boards while Wright finished with six rebounds and shot 6 for 7. He’s now shooting 76.1 percent (51 for 67) on the season and continues to lead the league.
Wall finished with 11 points, 11 assists and six boards while Gortat and Pierce scored 17 points apiece. Washington lost for the first time at home this season (4-1) against its first Western Conference opponent of the year.
The Wizards (7-3) stay home as they host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
Dallas improved to 4-1 against Eastern Conference teams this year and look to win No. 6 and 7 in a row this weekend as the Mavericks play host against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday before facing the Rockets on Saturday in Parsons’ return to Houston.