DALLAS - APRIL 27: Forward Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during play against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 27, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dirk Nowitzki
The Washington Wizards are now John Wall's team. So says Gilbert Arenas.
"He's going to be great," Arenas said. "He has a knack for finding people and getting to the basket. ... He's Batman, I'm Robin."
Wall had 21 points and nine assists, Lester Hudson hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds remaining, and the Wizards held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 97-94 on Tuesday night in the preseason opener for both teams.
Wall, the former Kentucky point guard who was the No. 1 pick in the draft, displayed speed and passing skills, offering hope he can help the Wizards improve on last season's 26-56 record.
"Overall, John kind of led us," Washington coach Flip Saunders said. "He's got unbelievable speed, makes good decisions, ends up with nine assists and only two turnovers."
At the morning shootaround, Saunders predicted Wall would be involved in "three or four" spectacular plays, and Wall didn't disappoint.
"I had a couple," said Wall, whose ability to penetrate earned him 11 trips to the foul line, converting nine. "But the most important thing was to get the jitters out of the way. I had a lot of assists and was able to get to the free throw line."
Arenas started alongside Wall in the backcourt and scored 12 points in 26 minutes after being limited in training camp by a sprained right ankle. The Wizards' most effective lineup was a three-guard set with Wall, Arenas and Kirk Hinrich.
Andray Blatche led the Wizards with 22 points. Jason Terry scored 15 points and Dirk Nowitzki 11 for the Mavericks.
Washington led 94-80 with 5:01 left, but Dallas' reserves went on a 14-0 run, capped by Dominique Jones' 19-footer with 16 seconds left to tie it at 94.
The Wizards held the ball for a late shot and Hudson swished his 3-pointer from the top of the key to put Washington ahead. Adam Haluska's desperation 3-pointer fell short at the buzzer for Dallas.
Josh Howard, traded by the Mavericks to the Wizards in February in a deal that brought Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to Dallas, is recovering from knee surgery and did not play.