- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2012

DALLAS — With just over a minute left in the game, Jordan Crawford dished off a lob pass to JaVale McGee, who went up for a dunk. The ball clanged off the rim, hit McGee in the side of the head, and McGee fell down under the basket.

The Dallas Mavericks recovered the ball on a fast break and raced up the court to put the finishing touch on a 107-98 win on Tuesday night in Dallas. It was just that kind night for the Wizards — especially McGee — who had trouble guarding Mavericks‘ All-Star Dirk Nowitski, who torched the Wizards for 27 points on 10 of 14 from the floor.

“Against a good team like this, your margin for error is small,” Wizards’ coach Randy Wittman said. “But we’ve just got to keep fighting and keep improving and making steps in the improvement defensively that we need to make.”

The Wizards have given up more than 100 points in their last five games, going 1-4 in those contests. The starting backcourt of John Wall (18 points on 6 of 14) and Jordan Crawford (15 points on 5 of 16) both struggled, but managed to hold Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd scoreless.

But reserve guard Jason Terry made up for Kidd’s lack of offensive output (24 points on 10 of 20), while the Wizards’ best defensive stopper, Trevor Booker, led the team in scoring (20 points on 8 of 13).

“It was tough,” Booker said.

“We got the lead down in the third quarter playing great defense, but in the fourth quarter they took off a little bit, and we weren’t able to catch up to them,” he said.

Dirk [Nowitski] was hitting some tough shots. Coach just told me at halftime not to get down on myself. He told the whole team to keep fighting, and that’s what we did.”

Andray Blatche continues to find his footing (11 points on 5 of 9 from the floor), as he works his way back from a calf injury that kept him out for five weeks.

“We have to get our team help defense together,” Blatche said.

“When we’re on the floor, it’s not just one player guarding one player; we’re all guarding one player. We have to be able to help on pick and rolls and other assignments.”

Nick Young, who often struggles with his defensive assignments, believes that there’s a lot to learn from playing two championship caliber teams back to back. Despite the losses, he believes the Wizards did pick up a couple of lessons.

“We came out and competed, but they’re a championship team,” Young said.

“We’ve just got to keep fighting. When you get hit, are you going to lay down, or are you going to get up and come back fighting? We came back out fighting.”

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