Three weeks ago, the Dallas Mavericks beat the Golden State Warriors 99-82. The Mavs’ bench trounced the Dubs reserves, there was no Klay Thompson, Tim Hardaway Jr. was unstoppable, and Steph Curry couldn’t make a three-pointer. Fast forward to Tuesday night, when Golden State boat raced Dallas 130-92. They got a whopping 71 points off the bench (17 from Jordan Poole, 22 from Jonathan Kuminga), Klay Thompson was back draining threes and throwing behind-the-back passes, Tim Hardaway Jr. broke his foot in the second quarter, and Steph Curry still couldn’t make a three-pointer - and it didn’t matter.
The Warriors had seven different players score in double figures, and Splash Brother-In-Law Damion Lee had nine, plus a game-high plus-minus rating of +29. Nemanja Bjelica had his first double-double since the season opener, with ten points and ten assists, plus two steals and four assists. Andrew Wiggins had 14, Otto Porter Jr. had 12, and they finally gave the Ground Bound Mound of Rebound some offensive help, as Kevon Looney didn’t have to take a single shot, just pull in nine boards and give out two assists.
For Dallas, Luka Doncic had 25 points, 21 in the first half on 4-7 three-point shooting. On a few of his deep threes, it was hard to fault the Golden State defense - he’s unguardable at times. Jalen Brunson had 11 points, while the Warriors held down their old nemesis, Dorian Finney-Smith. DFS had 17 in their previous meeting; last night, only eight points. Kristaps Porzingis had some big blocked shots early, but overall he was a disaster, shooting 4-15 and repeatedly getting confused by the Warriors’ ball movement.
Porzingis was so frustrated by the final quarter that when he dropped an easy pass in the lane, he kicked the ball into the crowd. That’s an automatic ejection, even if it wasn’t kicked very hard - more of a through ball than a penalty kick. It goes in the box score as a technical foul, but when you kick the ball at the fans, that’s officially considered a red card. He was very apologetic to the fans afterward, but secretly we think he wanted to leave before Jonathan Kuminga put him on a poster as well.
PORZINGIS EJECTED for kicking ball into stands. pic.twitter.com/HtKihZx96p— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) January 26, 2022
Rookie Jonathan Kuminga led the Warriors with 22 points, 17 of them in a spectacular fourth quarter where he made three three-pointers and completed two three-point plays on drives, including a truly vicious dunk on Josh Green after Nemanja “Pat Mahomes” Bjelica hit him with a deep pass.
And he made his free throw! Kuminga pretty much made everything all night, going 8-9 from the floor, 2-2 from the free throw line, and 4-4 from three-point range. He is now shooting 34.5% from three-point range on the season, a better percentage than any of the players drafted ahead of him. If Kuminga is even average from outside the arc, he becomes very difficult to guard, like if you let a great white shark also carry a sniper rifle. And especially if that shark is getting sweet mix-tape-style behind-the-back dimes from Klay Thompson.
Speaking of Klay Thompson, his knee was feeling much better after two games off. The Sea Captain - he corrected Jared Greenberg when he called him “Captain” - scored 15 points and dished out six assists. He caught fire in the second quarter, hitting back-to-back threes to give the Warriors a double-digit lead. Luka never had a chance on the second one.
When asked about his knee after the game, Thompson responded, “Feels great. Feels great when you shoot the ball and make behind the back passes.” And then he wore a captain’s hat to the postgame press conference.
A lot of the offense came from Curry scrambling the defense. Despite going 2-10 from long-range, Curry regularly broke down the defense with his drives, and shot 5-6 on his two-pointers. He finished with seven assists, but his hockey assists (a pass that leads to the assist) would have been off the charts. Dallas certainly wasn’t guarding him like a 20% outside shooter. He added seven rebounds and finished the night +18.
Early on, the Warriors did not look like a team on their way to 130 points, missing their first five shots and turning the ball over twice. Dallas wasn’t shooting that much better, so despite the Warriors scoring two points in the first 4:25, they only trailed 9-4 after a sweet give-and-go between Looney and Thompson. Luka Doncic was the whole offense for Dallas early, scoring or assisting on their first 16 points, including a Dirk-esque one-legged jumper. That was every Mavericks point, before he was subbed out. Why was he replaced? Maybe because he forgot about Gary Payton II on this play.
Good patience from Jordan Poole here to hit Steph Curry off of a pindown, which creates a predictable baseline dunk for Gary Payton II pic.twitter.com/HFVIhqm06p— Kelly O'Meara Morales (@_itskellyo) January 26, 2022
A Kuminga three gave the Warriors a double-digit lead late in the quarter, and they went into the second up 29-20.
In the second, Tim Hardaway Jr. kept Dallas in the game, including a personal 6-0 run early. Jalen Brunson hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 31-29, but that’s as close as the Mavericks would come the rest of the way. The Steph-Klay-Kuminga-Bjelica combination was potent offensively, with each taking turns scoring to push the lead to nine. Their only weakness was fouling Hardaway too much.
The Hardaway injury was a turning point for this game, which was never really in doubt after two-and-a-half quarters. He had ten points in the second quarter, drawing three fouls along the way. After the last one, he landed awkwardly and broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot - but stayed in the game and made his free throws before heading to the locker room. When he left the game, it was 40-35 Warriors. Immediately after, the Dubs went on a 17-5 run, eventually leading by 12 at halftime. Get well soon, THJ! And your dad should be in the Hall of Fame!
The halftime gap might have been larger, but Steph Curry accidentally got some extra rest in the second quarter. He went to check in with about three minutes to go, but there were no stoppages before halftime. Overall, the team had eight assists, and Klay Thompson was 3-3 from distance. When the Warriors lead at the half, they’re now 23-3 on the season.
Klay Thompson’s Globetrotters audition began in the third quarter. After he hit a jumper, he found his favorite target, Andrew Wiggins, with a showtime pass for an and-one. As he informed the press after the game, “Vision is always in my repertoire.”
Klay Thompson finds Wiggins with the smooth behind the back pass! pic.twitter.com/eboppA6UnK— Klay Nation (@KlayNationCP) January 26, 2022
Two buckets from Otto Porter Jr. and two more free throws from Wiggins stretched the lead to 20 points with 8:56 left in the quarter, and then Jordan Poole started to cook. He hit two three-pointers, part of ten points in a four-minute flurry, and drew another flagrant foul. What is it about Jordan Poole that makes opposing defenders so mean? Unshaken, Poole picked himself up and nailed his free throws, then knocked away a lob pass at the other end. Still, his finest performance came in his reaction to meeting the massive Boban Marjanovic after the game.
loooooool https://t.co/HX3RXwuiPT pic.twitter.com/W1y6TzbY0q— bench existentialism ♀️✨ (@celestiaIwaves) January 26, 2022
There may not be a more meme-able player in the league right now, with Nick Young gone.
Young Glove also hit a three after Curry hit him for his signature reverse jam and the Warriors went into the fourth up by 19 points, setting the stage for Jonathan Kuminga to take over the quarter.
out here ballin'— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 26, 2022
That’s three wins in a row for the Warriors, who were without Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala once again. The Draymond-free rotation seems to be lining up, with backup power forward minutes split between Wiggins and Kuminga, and Juan Toscano-Anderson relegated to spot minutes for now. And secret weapon Damion Lee continues to earn minutes despite Klay’s return and Payton’s emergence. With the team forced into playing extremely small small-ball with Green and Wiseman out indefinitely, it helps to have a rangy wing like Lee who can hold up at small forward in those lineups.
The Warriors record is up to 35-13, and they’re 4-1 on the current homestand. As dire as things have looked recently, they’re one well-timed foul away from being on a five-game win streak. After 48 games last year, they were 23-25. Since April 10 of last year, they’re 50-18.
Next up is a rematch with the Minnesota Timberwolves, another team that beat up the Warriors on the road in January. The T-Wolves are currently 7th in the Western Conference, they’ve also won four out of five, and Kevon Looney will have his hands full with Karl-Anthony Towns. The homestand will end in a nationally televised matchup with the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night, who will be severely shorthanded unless James Harden gets so frustrated he forcibly vaccinates Kyrie Irving himself.