DALLAS — Cartier Martin has been biding his time at the end of the Wizards bench, patiently waiting for his chance to play. He got it on Wednesday night at American Airlines Center as the Wizards took on the Dallas Mavericks.
Martin scored 14 points in 10 minutes on 5 of 6 from the floor as the Wizards lost 107-101, a game that was headed toward a blowout if not for Martin’s efforts. The fourth quarter comeback was all that kept the Wizards from being run out of the gym, thanks to a reliance on the 3-point shot, no foul calls and yet another injury.
“It’s my job to be mentally prepared, just knowing my job and being ready,” Martin said. “Everybody on this team can play. We’re struggling right now, but we’re going to continue to fight. We’re not going to give up.”
Another close loss was both encouraging and frustrating for Bradley Beal, who had another tough night scoring 8 points on 3 of 14 from the floor.
“You can’t be too mad, but you can’t be happy with it, either,” Beal said of yet another close loss. “You have to be happy with the effort we’re giving in every game. It’s not like we’re getting blown out. We’re competing.”
Beal was also the poster child for what ails the Wizards when it comes to getting foul calls.
Just seconds before halftime, Beal went up for a layup. Mavericks center Chris Kaman not only blocked the ball, but got Beal’s arm, and a part of his face as well. A stunned Beal waived his arms under the basket, expecting a foul call.
“I thought I got fouled, but that’s part of basketball,” Beal said. “I can’t say anymore, I might get fined.”
Beal shook off the no call, and Wizards coach Randy Wittman took up the cause, stopping referee Tom Washington before the teams went to the locker rooms at halftime for an explanation. Wittman managed to keep his anger under control as he walked away to regroup for the second half, but he’s getting frustrated.
“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.”
Wittman said he’s considering sending some game film to the league, but in the meantime, he’s not one to use the lack of calls as an excuse. Unfortunately, the bad news for Wittman and the Wizards didn’t end with the disparity at the line.
In the opening minutes of the third quarter, A.J. Price took a hard fall under the basket and remained on the ground throughout the next possession. As Price rose to his feet, he was unable to put any weight on his right ankle and was helped to the locker room.
Price, a career backup who is starting at point guard for the ailing John Wall, had his ankle taped and returned to the game. While Price was out, Jordan Crawford, who is still recovering from a sprained left ankle, moved over to point guard and played well.
It’s just one more nagging injury the Wizards cannot afford as their patchwork lineup did their best to keep up with the Mavericks, who were determined to end their own three-game losing streak against a struggling Washington team.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, seemed able to almost score at will, connecting from long range and driving to the basket. At halftime alone, the Mavericks had 10 fast break points; the Wizards had none. It was the fourth quarter comeback that made the final line look respectable, with Dallas shooting 50.0 percent for the game, while the Wizards shoot 48.1 percent.
Crawford led the way for Washington with 21 points on 6 for 11 shooting and Kevin Seraphin added 16 on 8 of 10 from the floor. O.J. Mayo led all scorers with 25, while Kaman had 23 for Dallas.
Adding insult to injury, the Detroit Pistons defeated the 76ers in Philadelphia on Wednesday 94-76 to pick up their first win of the season, leaving the Wizards as the only team in the NBA that has yet to win a game this season.
“We just gotta keep fighting and not get discouraged,” Wittman said. “But it’s hard sometimes not to get discouraged.”