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Wizards edge Mavericks in first game after Rui Hachimura trade

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DALLAS — When Wes Unseld Jr. got up early Tuesday morning, his long to-do list had an unusual item ahead of the Wizards’ game. 127-126 Beat the Dallas Mavericks. His second year coaching in Washington had a new player to meet.

Kendrick Nunn took a 5 p.m. Suddenly, the third-year guards were on a docket for a 10-day expedition, and Rui Hachimura was heading west.

Wizard Send Hachimura to Los Angeles Lakers for Nunn and three second-round picks We started the trade season well before the NBA’s February 9th deadline. The move gave Washington some salary flexibility and the type of draft funds President and General Manager Tommy Shepard has historically used to facilitate future deals. Drafted Thomas Satoransky was Washington’s latest second-round pick to become a rotation player.

In effect, Shepard said on Tuesday that the move would allow the Wizards to play more of 2020 lottery pick Deni Avdija. I think I will carry it.

“Defensively, I think we need more Deni on the floor,” Shepard said. “A better secondary playmaker who just turned 22 — I think he has a bright future. increase.”

Shepard called up Avdija, a 6-foot-9-inch, 210-pound forward who averages 8 points, 6 rebounds and 2.5 assists, and is the team’s second-best defender behind backup point guard Delon Wright and a winger. noted his talent as a defender of the .and in the pick and roll. The third-year player is averaging 25.8 minutes, a slight improvement from his second year in the league (24.2 minutes), but has been in and out of the starting lineup.

On Tuesday, he scored 15 points in 32 minutes off the bench and added 10 rebounds in a light up-and-down battle of defense that went down into the final seconds.

But Avdija isn’t the only one to benefit from Hachimura’s departure. Unseld said Tuesday that Kyle Kuzma could slip from small forward. He recently started alongside power forward Kristaps Porzingis and center Daniel Gafford.

Kuzma started Tuesday at power forward, with guard Corey Kispert at shooting forward and Gafford at center. Porzingis out with left ankle sprain.

“At the beginning of the season, I play more with KP and 5. [Kuzma] There were mainly 4. I think that helped him attack.yes [this] Push him back a bit to the 4 position, allowing him to play off the bounce and attack from the 4 with coverage. This is really good for us. “Deni will obviously benefit a little bit as a playmaker by being able to hold the ball and play pick-and-rolls a little more, but the place, those times, can be seized. Whether it’s 3 D, 4 Deni, or 4 KPs, it gives you more flexibility.”

The Wizards (21-26) also have more flexibility financially, which Shepard says will at least partially contribute to backup guard Jordan Goodwin’s standard contract. Or plan to convert a two-way player once a spot on the roster opens up by making a trade. Goodwin took a break from his activities on Tuesday and will only play six more games this season under his current contract.

Against Dallas (25-24), the short-handed Wizards fought hard until the final minutes.

Without Porzingis, Washington tried to match Luka Doncic’s scoring barrage per committee. Behind Kuzma’s team-leading 30 points were six players in double figures. Bradley Beal tallied his 22 points and his four assists, and Kispert scored his 14 points in his 25th starting appearance.

No player on the floor was more awe-inspiring than Doncic, who scored 41 without a 3-pointer and had 15 rebounds. But wizards didn’t have to be flashy. They needed to sharpen all at once.

After Gafford fouled out nine in 19 minutes, Washington closed out the game with a small lineup with Avdija on the floor. With 1 minute and 32 seconds remaining, Beal hit a three-point shot to put the team up by one point. Kispert made a smart move as he was rushing a loose ball to save a possession that ended in Avdija at the free-throw line. Both shots for a three-point lead.

Doncic hit a jumper to bring the Mavericks back within one. He stole the ball from Beale on the other side and drew a foul on fast break to equalize with 12.5 seconds remaining.

Kuzma hit a Hail Mary jumper off the wing and fouled Doncic, but a second free throw was all it took. Wright stole the ball from Doncic on the last play to give the Wizards a three-game winning streak and begin a five-game journey.

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