DALLAS (AP) – Chris Kaman was a starter and finisher for the Dallas Mavericks.
Kaman started only his second game in Dallas, scoring 23 points with some key responses late as the Mavericks held on for a 107-101 victory over the winless but late-charging Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
“I felt comfortable early. Our guards found me for some layups and got me going,” Kaman said. “I was real disappointed and frustrated, myself included, in the team as a whole on the way we approached the fourth quarter. We finished the right way, but we were up (18 points) in the fourth quarter.”
Dallas snapped a three-game losing streak since Kaman’s only other start.
The Wizards (0-7) got close with a 15-0 run in about 3½ minutes in the fourth quarter.
And they missed a tying 3-pointer in the final minute before Kaman, who also scored the opening basket of the game and finished 10-of-12 shooting, had a strong inside basket and made the free throw after being fouled with 17 seconds left to finally clinch the game.
“Kaman’s scoring was terrific efficiency-wise,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Wizards are the only team without a victory, and one short of the franchise-worst start set just last season when they lost their first eight games.
Detroit won for the first game earlier Wednesday, 94-76 at Philadelphia.
Cartier Martin capped Washington’s big run with consecutive 3-pointers, swishing the second from the wing right in front of the Mavs bench and Carlisle to get within 88-85.
“The first three quarters were great. We’ll take that effort and energy any night. But we got a little content with the lead,” said O.J. Mayo, who scored 25 points. “We got into the mentality that they were going to quit and we’ll go away with the win. … It’s all about stepping on an opponent when you have them down.”
Kaman had a short hook on the Mavs’ next possession. After Kevin Seraphin made a hook over Kaman, the Mavs’ 7-foot center scored with his back to the basket when he tossed the ball over his shoulder.
A defensive rebound by Kaman led to a basket by Mayo that made it 94-87, and still that almost wasn’t enough.
Seraphin had consecutive baskets and it was 101-98 with just under 2 minutes left. Seraphin then had a steal, but Jannero Pargo missed a potential tying 3.
“Hey, you want to fight. We fought, it’s a learning process,” coach Randy Wittman said. “We can’t get down (in the game), but we did fight back.”
Washington outscored Dallas 34-22 in the fourth quarter without a starter getting on the floor. Seraphin had 14 of his 16 points in that spurt and Martin had 14 points after not even playing the first three quarters.
“We have a tough group of guys on this team. Our record doesn’t show how great of a group we are,” said Martin, who made all four of his 3-pointers. “Everybody on this team can play. We’re struggling right now, but we’re going to continue to fight. We’re not going to give up.”
The Wizards made six 3s in the fourth quarter, but never went to the free-throw line while Kaman’s closing three-point play made Dallas 9 of 10 from the stripe in the final 12 minutes.
“For whatever reason, this team doesn’t get any respect,” Wittman said. “We go to the rim, and had 11 free throws. These young guys just have to make a name for themselves. And it’s just baffling some of the things that are said to me by the refs for why they don’t call it.”
Jordan Crawford led Washington with 21 points.
It was the first game in Dallas started together by Kaman and Elton Brand, Mavs newcomers who were past teammates with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Mavs are missing injured starters Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.
Brand had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Jae Crowder, the rookie who had started the previous four games, scored 12 points off the bench.
The Wizards were within 37-33 when Emeka Okafor made a 7-foot turnaround jumper with just under 7 minutes left in the first half.
Brand then made a pair of free throws to start a 15-2 run. And the Mavericks made 10 of their next 12 shots for a 63-45 halftime lead.
It was the first 40-point quarter this season for the Mavericks.
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