John Wall’s Wizardry Not Enough

Before I write anything else, I have to proclaim my love for John Wall. He’s not the best pure shooter around by a wide margin, but he’s among the very best passers in the NBA, and I just really enjoy watching him play. The Wizards as a whole have one of the more interesting rosters in the league, in fact, and a lot of people expected them to be heard from in the East this season. With an 8-10 start, they’ve been a disappointment so far, but I still like their chances the rest of the way. It’s not a coincidence that their game against the Mavericks last night was right up there with the most fun I’ve had all season so far.

Of course, the biggest reason it was so fun was that the Mavericks won the game and actually shot the ball well for a change. If you’re a Mavericks fan, you already heard the big news — and hopefully saw it firsthand. Just days after chastising himself for hurting the team with his wildly inconsistent stroke, Wes Matthews lost his mind last night and drained 10 three-pointers, a career-high for him and a mark that tied George McCloud for the team record. When you tie a record set by Papa Three, you know you did something right.

It was particularly exciting for such a thing to happen for Matthews, who just doesn’t seem to get much love from the average NBA fan. While he was beloved in Portland for the most part, I’ve read rumblings that he is a questionable starter, a role player at best who doesn’t deserve a max contract, that the Achilles tear is death to a basketball player, and apparently someone on Twitter even thinks he’s a doughnut-munching fat-ass. While some or all of these things may be true apart from the fatness, it’s easy to see why some people love Matthews. In his typical form, he’s an absolute weapon from three-point territory, he plays solid defense, and he can get to the basket and even post up against smaller defenders. These are the skills of a very useful player, and while Mavericks fans have yet to see him at his best, if it’s anything like last night, there won’t be much more grumbling about him when he’s all the way back — if that ever happens.

With Chandler Parsons sitting so he’ll be available to suit up for tonight’s game against the Knicks, it was great to see someone step up and take over the offense. Deron Williams has been feeling it of late, but he hit a cold spell last night, shooting just 2-for-12 from the floor, and while several Mavericks hit double-digit point totals, they really needed an obvious go-to option on offense to truly separate themselves from a Wizards team that was lacking several key ingredients. Wes’s 36-point, 6-rebound, 5-assist outburst looks fantastic in the box score, and watching him nail three after three was unlike anything I’ve seen this whole season.

Matthews wasn’t the only Maverick who put up a well-rounded box score line, however. Despite Deron’s woeful shooting, he contributed with 7 rebounds and 9 assists, and Raymond Felton weirdly managed a double-double, with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. Dirk Nowitzki continued his great passing of late by racking up 4 assists to go with his 19 points. After failing to get more than 3 assists in a single contest through the first 18 games this season, Dirk has now run off a three-game stretch where he has 6, 4, and 4 respectively. In his peak days, Ol’ Gray Eyes routinely dished out around 3 dimes per 36 minutes, but that number has dropped the last few years. It’s nice to see him showing off those passing skills lately.

With this win, Dallas moves to 12-9, tied with Memphis for the fourth best Western Conference record. They’re right in the thick of things in a conference that really hasn’t defined itself apart from having the best team in NBA history, and playoff hopes are looking brighter with each win. I’m about as excited for the game against the Knicks and my first Kristaps Porzingis sighting as I have been for any game this season. Following the fun Wizards matchup, this might be the peak of my renewed NBA fandom so far. Watching basketball is so much more rewarding than raising squirrels.


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