Once introductions to the game against the Dallas Mavericks were completed on Friday night, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope delivered a direct message to Washington Wizards teammate Kristaps Porzingis.
“We called Huddle and I told him, ‘KP, since they let you go, we’re going to kill them for you,'” Caldwell-Pope said. “That’s the first thing I said to him, and we did exactly that.”
Porzingis scored 24 points and nine rebounds in his first game against his former team, helping Washington overtake Dallas 135–103.
Caldwell-Pope scored a season-high 35 points and Rui Hachimura added 21 for Washington, which won for the fourth time in five games despite being knocked out of the playoff competition the day before.
Luka Doncic had 36 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Dallas, half a game behind Golden State for third place in the Western Conference. Jalen Brunson had 21 points for the Mavericks, having missed a 20-game lead of .500 for the first time since their 2010–11 title season.
Dallas coach Jason Kidd was kicked out when he was called out for two technical fouls, with 8:47 remaining and the Mavericks trailing 105–85.
“Tony (brothers), he’s got me out as a player and now he’s got me out as a coach,” Kidd said. “What I told him was, ‘Whose ball is it?’ And he took that personal, unfortunately, and kicked me out.
Washington acquired Porzingis in a February 10 trade deadline deal for forward Davis Burtons and guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Porzingis averaged 20.0 points and 8.8 rebounds over parts of three seasons with the Mavericks.
“Everyone had my back today,” Porzingis said. “They knew it was – I don’t want to say it was an individual sport, but it’s always fun to compete against your former team.”
In his first game against the Wizards since the deal, Dinwiddie had eight points in 23 minutes, while Burton played 10 unscored minutes.
Washington’s postseason hopes came to an end on Thursday when Atlanta beat Cleveland, the third time it has missed the playoffs in four years. But the Wizards wasted little time controlling against Dallas, as Caldwell-Pope scored the first five points and never relinquished Washington.
“He was going quick,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. of Caldwell-Pope, who was 6 of 11 from 3-point range. “He didn’t force the issue. He just took advantage of the shots that were offered to him. Once he sees a couple going in, he’s now shooting in a big basket. I have spent similar nights in my career.
“When you get hot like this, it’s good to get a heat check.”
The Wizards led 67-53 in the half and eventually extended their advantage to 26 after Porzingis made 88-62 by a 3-pointer. Dallas halved the deficit with a 16–3 run, but Washington then sealed it with a 21–7 burst, which included a rejection of Kidd, which caused Dallas a loss two days after closing a playoff berth. .
“Sometimes (when you) the clinic, it’s time to rest, and I think we rested,” Kidd said. “We didn’t play very well. Luca got the ball going, but defensively we have to get back to the way things were before the (All-Star) break.”