First Impressions: Mavs Over Wiz

In the second quarter of Mavs-at-Wiz on New Year's Day, Dallas missed 12 of its final 13 shots, went 6-of-22 from the field and saw Jose, Vince and Dirk combine for 1-of-13. How did they extract themselves from that hole to record an 87-78 win giving them a 3-0 road trip? First Impressions:

The Dallas Mavericks registered a fourth straight win on the road by beating the Wizards for the eighth straight time in this 87-78 decision to open a New Year. They did it despite some offensive struggles -- and a three-point halftime deficit that was the result of a second quartter featuring Dallas missing 12 of its final 13 shots, going 6-of-22 overall and getting Jose, Vince and Dirk combining for 1-of-13.

Dirk, in fact, wouldn't be quite right all game as he rolled his ankle to begin the night and would finish with a season-low nine points.

"I was an expensive decoy,'' said the max-money future Hall-of-Famer.

But Monta Ellis scored 23 points to help the offense -- coach Rick Carlisle said this was Ellis' best overall floor game as a Mav -- and this offense needed that help. The 87 is a season-low in points; shooting 38.5 percent on the road and winning is a rarity in franchise history.

''It was an ugly game,'' Nowitzki said.

"It was a beautiful game,'' Carlisle said.

The Mavs don't seem overly concerned about Dirk's well-=being (they don't practice today and he joked casually that this is ''probably the 200th time in my career'' that he's rolled an ankle. Their mood is no doubt buoyed by once again being able to win a game with defense. Dallas held Washington scoreless for a four-minute span late in the game. ... and while the Mavs shot that 38.5 percent, they held the Wiz to 37.5 percent.
Defense? Dallas? Again? On this sweep of a road trip, the Mavs held opponents (Chicago, Minnesota, Washington) to 23 points or fewer in 10 of the 12 quarters. During this time, they've allowed foes an average of just 86.3 points per, as our man Mark Followill notes, the best three-game stretch of the Mavs' season.

''It was such a competitive game,'' Carlisle said, "whoever won was going to be the survivor.''

That would be the Mavs, who thanks to this 3-0 roadie (the franchise's first such sweep since March 2011) now sit six games over .500 (for the first time since the end of 2011-12). They come now home for meetings with the Clippers, Knicks and Lakers. ... and a chance to put the valley behind them and start building a peak.

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