Bradley Beal dunked over 7-foot-2 Salah Mejri then stared him down, the most dramatic part of a 30-point performance that led the Washington Wizards past the Dallas Mavericks 132-123 on Wednesday night.
Beal added eight assists and seven rebounds as Washington finally beat Dallas at home after losing nine in a row when hosting the Mavericks.
Trevor Ariza scored 22 and Jabari Parker 20 for the Wizards, who entered the game 11th in the Eastern Conference and three games out of a playoff berth.
Despite winning two consecutive games and three of their past four, Washington is still only 27-37.
Rookie Luka Doncic was spectacular at times for the Mavs, using a mix of step-back 3s, spin moves and all sorts of other elements en route to 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Dwight Powell made 11 of 12 shots and scored a career-high 26 points, while contributing 10 rebounds.
But the real star attraction for Dallas, as far as the crowd was concerned, was Dirk Nowitzki, who is expected to retire after his 20th NBA season, all with the Mavericks. He made two free throws for his only points, shot 0 for 3 from the floor and grabbed two rebounds in 12 minutes of action.
Still, he drew louder cheers than most members of the Wizards, even some chants of “MVP!” or “We want Dirk!” — and laments of “Awwwwww” when one 3-point try rimmed out. When Nowitzki entered for the first time with about 2½ minutes left in the opening quarter, a video tribute was shown overhead and the announcer referred to him as “one of the greatest power forwards of all-time.”
Washington was down 11 in the opening period at 32-21, its second-largest deficit of the evening, when Beal drove the lane and threw down his slam against Mejri. That seemed to wake the hosts.
They led 69-65 at halftime, but that edge was merely 116-115 deep into the fourth quarter when Jeff Green made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give the Wizards a more comfortable margin.
Mavericks: Had zero turnovers in the first quarter and closed the game with only seven. … Dallas has lost eight of its last nine games and is 27-37.
Wizards: Beal scored at least 20 points for the 18th game in a row. … Entered the game averaging 22.2 points off turnovers since the All-Star break, second-most in the NBA. Washington scored eight off Dallas’ turnovers on Wednesday.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was asked before the game about the 40-year-old Nowitzki’s supposedly impending retirement and apparent “farewell tour,” but responded: “We don’t know what his decision is going to be. There are a lot of assumptions being made. But the way I look at it is that we should all relish whatever time we have left to see him on the floor — whether it’s going to be just this year, whether it’s going to be this year and next year.”
Mavericks: Close their three-game trip at the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
Wizards: At Charlotte on Friday night; the Hornets are one of the teams lingering ahead of Washington for a playoff berth.