On the night when the Dallas Mavericks retired Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41, it was a different European sensation who starred for Dallas. Luka Doncic finished with 26 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds, out-playing his fellow All-Star Steph Curry. Despite leaving late in the 4th quarter with a sprained ankle, the Mavs dominated the Warriors 29-15 as a close contest turned into a blowout late. Luka got a lot of help from Tim Hardaway Jr., scoring 14 points off the bench in his third game back since going into health and safety protocols. And Dorian Finney-Smith got it done on both ends, putting up 17 points, 9 rebounds, and two big blocks.
Steph Curry’s shooting slump continued, as he scored just 14 points on 5/24 shooting. He did have an opportunity to stop shooting when he was 4/20, as a tribute to Steph, but he bravely kept firing away. Andrew Wiggins led the Warriors with 17 points, while Gary Payton II had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Juan Toscano-Anderson led the bench with nine points, and Kevon Looney was the only Warriors with a positive point differential, finishing the game +5.
The Mavs did an excellent job of playing at their preferred slow pace, frustrating the Warriors’ ability to get transition buckets. Dallas only shot 38% overall, even worse than the Warriors’ 41%, but they survived by getting to the line and hitting 30% of their threes, with five of them coming in the decisive third quarter. Again, 30% isn’t great - except when your opponent is hitting only 18%. The Warriors continued to struggle in the first game of road trips, and while they’ve proved they can win with Steph Curry shooting poorly, they probably can’t win with Curry and Poole bricking shots from distance. 82 points is a season-low in points for Golden State, and the
As has happened so often in the Curry Era, the Warriors’ offense came alive in the third quarter. Steph Curry clearly read the stats about his shooting slump at halftime, because he hit a 26-footer right away in the third. Two buckets from Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II followed, plus Kevon Looney getting a layup off his second offensive rebound of the possession. Just like that, the lead was 56-54 Dallas, and Jason Kidd was calling timeout.
Starting the second half with a #SPLASH #StephenCurry || #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/cVf4NNU93s— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 6, 2022
That didn’t stop the run. The Mavericks continued to clank outside shots, and the Warriors kept up the defensive pressure. Curry’s layup gave the Warriors their first lead since TK-TK, another Curry jumper made the lead three, and then the two-time MVP hit Payton on a runout for a dunk. Draymond hit a hook shot to make it 63-56, capping a 16-0 run.
TOUCHDOWN DUBS!— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 6, 2022
Finney-Smith finally ended a six-minute scoreless stretch for Dallas with a three-pointer at 5:01, then drew a foul. And then Juan Toscano-Anderson stole the ball from him in an egregious example of hyphen-on-hyphen crime. Undaunted, Finney-Smith hit a layup, blocked a shot, and when Luka Doncic shoved down Jordan Poole, he made a wide-open three-pointer to put Dallas back on top 66-63, a 10-0 stretch. This game had more runs than Jeff Van Gundy, a day after a trip to El Farolito.
Who did Kerr bring it to stop the run? Rookie Jonathan Kuminga, who battled his way to two straight trips to the line, sandwiching a Jalen Brunson drive where he took roughly four and-a-half steps. The 3rd ended with Dallas back on top, 70-67. Golden State did not make a field goal after the 5:16 mark of the third, and wouldn’t make one for a full seven minutes. They’d go ice-cold again in the 4th, going scoreless for four-and-a-half minutes in the middle of the quarter. A Wiggins three-pointer to cut the Dallas lead to nine points was the last gasp of hope for the Dubs, but they followed up with Curry and Poole missing threes, plsu two Curry turnovers. By the time Doncic left with his injury, the game was out of reach.
Curry got collided with Finney-Smith in the third and got treatment. He also blocked Maxi Kleber, giving him more footage to burnish his emerging All-Defensive Team campaign.
It was a slow shooting start for the Dubs, who didn’t hit their first three-pointer until the 10:42 mark of the second quarter. Damion Lee’s triple gave the Warriors a 26-22 lead, but Dallas responded with a 18-6 run, sparked by a personal 5-0 run from Tim Hardaway Jr. The Warriors didn’t truly respond until Jordan Poole drove for a layup. Then Curry finally hit his first shot, 21 minutes into the game, breaking a string of 14 straight misses (including the end of Monday’s game). He finished the first half shooting just 1-10, and even missed a free throw.
Overall those 12 minutes were rough for Golden State, who shot 8/23 from the field, with just the one three-pointer. Dallas didn’t shoot a lot better, but many trips to the line and Tim Hardaway nailing triples let them win the quarter 29-18, and lead the game 50-39 at the half. Gary Payton II did contribute one of his signature end-of-quarter takeaways, stealing the ball from Jalen Brunson with 20 seconds left in the quarter to set up Curry’s split free throws.
Steph Curry is going through one of the emptiest patches of his career: 1-of-10 in the first half tonight, missed all five of his 3s, now 4-of-27 the last six quarters, 1-of-15 from 3. Brutal offensive half from the Warriors in Dallas. Only 39 points. Down 11.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 6, 2022
Golden State sat out both Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr. in advance of tomorrow night’s game against New Orleans. We may see some other veterans rest on the second half of that back-to-back, including Curry, who was limping after a third-quarter collision with Finney-Smith. That would give him three full days off to ensure he’s as fresh as possible for Klay Thompson’s return on Sunday.
Incidentally, the Warriors also have a permanent tribute to Dirk Nowitzki at the Chase Center. It’s a piece of the wall from Oracle Arena that Dirk damaged when he threw a trash can into the wall after the We Believe Warriors upset the 67-15 Mavericks in 2007.
The Dirk shrine, where he threw the trash can that made this hole in the wall, will be cut out and moved to Golden State’s new arena next season, a Warrior official said. pic.twitter.com/mpW46Rsuvl— Eddie Sefko (@ESefko) December 23, 2018
In case you were wondering, Klay Thompson’s beloved bulldog, Rocco is OK. “Rocco” was trending on Twitter only because people are so bored with isolating at home that they started tweeting about a Sesame Street character’s pet rock.
In announcing news, ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy promoted JTA for the slam dunk contest, was befuddled by the difference in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Gary Payton II’s appellations, and blamed his assistant coaches for Dirk Nowitzki’s career-high 53 points, achieved against JVG’s old Houston Rockets team.