Stephen Curry grabbed the ball and headed up the floor, time winding down in overtime and the score tied at 120. Left side of the floor, against Jose Calderon, Curry had the matchup he wanted. Dribbling down the clock, Curry gave Calderon a hesitation move and a hard dribble, then violently stepped back and, as fast as you can blink, released a step-back jump shot that swished softly through the net for a Warriors come-from-behind, overtime victory. His shot and reaction were just epic.
This was an unbelievable game befitting of the playoff circumstances it resembled. The Warriors scored the first eight points of the contest and got out to an early 11 point lead, but Dallas came back behind Dirk Nowitzki, who had 22 points in the first half, to lead 62-53 at the half.
The Mavericks ended the first half on a 20-9 run; Nowitzki, continuing his ageless season, scored the Mavericks' last 11 points on four straight fast-break shots, including three trailer 3-pointers. He torched the Warriors for 16 points in the quarter and had four of the eight Maverick first half three-pointers. Nowitzki finished with 33 points on 13-21 shooting and 11 rebounds
While the Mavericks, as many other teams this season, destroyed the Warriors in the second quarter 41-23, the Warriors didn't panic and slowly got back into the game in the second half. Dallas shot 52% for the first half and 8-for-10 from three-point land, but the Warriors held them to just 44% shooting and 6-20 from distance in the second half and overtime, locking up the Mavericks defensively. Draymond Green couldn't stop Nowitzki in the first half, but he and Marreese Speights did a much better job in the second half.
Harrison Barnes again crapped the bed; in just thirteen minutes of play Barnes shot exactly zero times and was seemed disinterested in the game altogether, content to pass and stay out on the wing. His slump is a real problem, but tonight it didn't cost the Warriors. To contrast, Green and Speights provided energy, great hustle, and scoring inside, with 16 rebounds between them and contesting Dirk Nowitzki much better in the second half.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson went 0-6 from 3 in the first half, but combined to make 7-12 three-pointers in the second half and overtime. Thompson and Curry were especially key in the Warriors outscoring the Mavericks by 13 in the third quarter to retake the lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Thompson had 27 points for the game, including a game-tying three with a minute left in the fourth quarter to push the game to overtime. Adding a potent playmaking game that seems to vanish and reappear from game to game - and needs to become more steady come playoff time - Thompson had five assists, five rebounds, and numerous strong takes to the basket, where he was able to finish deftly in the painted area.
Key Stat: Warriors Shoot 57% From the Field
Golden State was able to take and make efficient shots all game long, shooting 56% in the first half and 58% from the floor in the second half. Though the Warriors only scored 12 fast-break points, they dominated the restricted area, scoring 62 points in the paint. Also, the Warriors transitioned from shooting ice-coldly, just 5-16, from distance in the first half, to a blazing 10-15 from three-point land in the second half and overtime.
Jermaine O'Neal had 20 points on 9-12 shooting; Andre Iguodala added 17 on 7-9 attempts; and Speights and Jordan Crawford combined to score 27 points on 11-17 from the field. Crawford was key in the first half especially, hitting multiple deep threes that kept the Warriors within striking distance, and his 19 points represented a season-high with Golden State. The Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, were once again the main catalysts for the Warriors comeback, and combined for 50 points on over 50% shooting.
Warrior Wonder: Stephen Curry
Steph had 23 points and 10 assists, his league-leading fifteenth game with at least 20 points and ten assists; he also added his 23rd go-ahead basket in the fourth quarter and overtime, hitting his third game-winner of the season. The Warriors leaned on Curry throughout the second half to make plays; he responded with 17 points and seven assists, and it is clear that as long as Curry plays well, the Warriors will always have a chance to come away with a victory.
Curry had ten assists to only one turnover and his on-target, bullet passes to the bigs in the lane that were examples of how his game has grown. He's not just a scorer; Curry has become one of the best all-around players in the league because of his ability to drive and either score or find teammates for open shots. He exudes confidence at clutch moments and can make the big shots and big plays. His calm attitude, decisive decision-making. and excellent playmaking down the stretch led the Warriors to a thrilling overtime victory.
Up Next: Wednesday @ San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are the hottest team in the league right now, on a franchise-record 18-game winning streak, and just destroying any and all other challengers. San Antonio owns the best offensive efficiency and three-point percentage over their streak, and absolutely crushed Indiana on Monday, handing the Pacers their worst home loss of the season.
San Antonio has the best record in the entire NBA and hasn't lost in over a month, and in fact the team beat the Warriors for the third time this year, without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, back on March 22 as part of their win streak. Golden State will definitely be without Andrew Bogut once again, and probably without David Lee as well. People may write the Warriors off immediately, but the truth is, they have Stephen Curry (and Klay Thompson), and that could be enough to put up a decent fight.