With Andre Iguodala resting and the Warriors coming off an emotional game against the Oklahoma Thunder on the previous night, questions about their ability to keep up their momentum hung in the air. While the Mavericks started well, leading by two at the end of the first quarter, the Warriors broke the game open in the second quarter and continued to assert their dominance as the game went on.
Dallas opened 6-for-11 on threes but was unable to find meaningful offense elsewhere, and fell behind as the threes stopped falling. This road win makes the Warriors the first team to win at least 28 road games in three straight seasons.
The Warriors effort looked tepid at best to start the game, and Dallas was able to build a seven point lead early in the first. Fears about Golden State’s effort or energy quickly evaporated, though the Mavericks ended the quarter up two points, scoring 30 points largely off six made threes.
Nerlens Noel showed early that he would be a matchup issue against Zaza Pachulia, as he was active in creating extra offensive possessions with his rebounding while providing a much-needed interior presence. Noel was able to prove effective against JaVale McGee as well, as he has comparable athleticism and raced down court to give Dallas a lob threat inside.
With the Mavericks up 27-20, Draymond Green hit a three at the top of the arc, and the Warriors closed the quarter on a 9-3 run. First quarter ends 28-30, Mavericks up two.
The start of the second quarter was an important test for the Warriors as the unit that relies on the veteran leadership of Andre Iguodala lacked their “quarterback.” Despite Iguodala’s absence, the Warriors were able to play a complete quarter, outscoring Dallas 34-20. The bench unit highlight came with a throwback David West slam over three Mavericks, which the Warriors bench celebrated with glee.
Dirk Nowitzki would end up the high scorer for Dallas in the game with 16, and was finding his stroke until the Warriors employed the “We Believe” era strategy of doubling the Big German and forcing the ball out of his end. Ian Clark absorbed Iguodala’s touches and found a nice rhythm in the second quarter. He would end the game as the Warriors’ second highest scorer with 18 points, outscoring the two time MVP.
The major turning point of the second quarter, and the game, would be when Patrick McCaw blew up a designed out of timeout play that would have given Nowitzki a wide-open jumper, which led to a Klay Thompson three on the other end, putting the Warriors up double-digits for the first time of the game. This 11-point lead would come with 2:50 left in the half and the Mavericks were never able to close the gap to single-digits. McCaw continues to show a confidence that simply wasn’t there in the beginning of the season, as he shoots earned threes and passes without being passive.
Stephen Curry had a quiet first half with just seven points, looking more to distribute and setup his teammates. This was taken to its extreme when the reigning MVP passed up a wide open layup to throw a pass behind him to a trailing Draymond Green, who was subsequently fouled. The sequence, either caused by unselfishness, boredom, or carelessness, marks a behavior that for better or worse is part of Curry’s game; but those plays are few and far between, and he makes up for them without exception with his play on net. Second quarter ends 62-50, with the Mavericks making just two threes in the second frame.
The first scoring sequence for the Warriors of the second half would be a Zaza Pachulia jumper against a retreating Nowitzki, which brought a smile to Draymond Green’s face. Pachulia would end the night with six points on three shots and six rebounds.
The star of the third quarter was Mr. Third Quarter himself, Stephen Curry, who would have had a top ten highlight if not for an unlucky bounce. A quick crossover into stepback spun Nerlens Noel like a top, but Curry was unable to knockdown the open corner three. Steph would end the game with 17 points on 50 percent shooting, but more impressively nine assists without a turnover. He showed great hustle as well as he raced down court to recover a loose ball and converted a tough layup against an encroaching Wesley Matthews.
The Warriors’ defense, propelled by DPOY front runner Draymond Green, clamped down on Dallas in the second half, with the Mavericks PPG leader Harrison Barnes finishing with just five points on the night. As if Green’s already considerable defensive prowess wasn’t enough, his deep knowledge of Barnes’ game would prove a lethal combination, as he prevented the former Warrior from scoring a point against him.
Another notable contribution on the defensive end was from JaVale McGee, who has grown tremendously as an individual defender. Ron Adams and the whole coaching staff deserve credit for developing McGee’s “defensive IQ”, specifically not biting on pump fakes and utilizing length to cover the most ground without leaving the ground. The third quarter ended at 91-71, as the Warriors trend of “Big Mo” or big closing runs to end halves and quarters continue.
The fourth quarter was largely garbage time, though it did offer some humorous moments for those who continued to watch the blowout. Stephen Curry would not even remain on the bench for the entire fourth, opting to return to the locker room early to begin his post-game decompression.
Ian Clark did a great job of running up his numbers in the garbage minutes, and also displaying some sportsmanship worthy of one of those corny cable commercials, as he offered a helping hand to a downed Yogi Ferrell after fouling the Mavericks guard.
The “star” of the fourth quarter would be James Michael McAdoo, who like legendary centers Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard before him would be targeted with the “Hack-A” strategy. Rick Carlisle’s decision to intentionally foul McAdoo was curious as the Mavericks were down nearly 20 points and Steve Kerr was not shy about letting the Dallas coach know with an icy gaze across court.
Shaun Livingston would skip the courtesy of the silent stare and directly let Carlisle know the strategy was not a winning one, after which the Dallas coach relented and gracefully allowed the game to end.
The final score was 112-87, which marks the first time this season the Warriors have held four straight opponents to under 100 points. Despite much media frenzy to the contrary, the Warriors have found a stride at the right time, with playoffs looming, and all the success is even more important as Kevin Durant remains unavailable, though he is progressing better than expected.