It was the best of times then it was the worst of times for the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. After dominating for most of the first three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks, a complete offensive collapse left the door open for a counterattack. In the end, the Warriors lost 107-101 and are now only 1.5 games ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies for the second seed in the West.
Andrew Wiggins’ strange recent free-throw struggles were highlighted in the first few possessions when he made just one of three free throws after he was fouled taking a shot behind the arc. However, he quickly rebounded to shoot 4-for-5 from the field for 11 points in the quarter.
While Wiggins was Golden State’s leading scorer early, Sunday’s game was another well-rounded Stephen Curry show for most of regulation. The Warriors star got his scoring started with a difficult, off-balance three in transition and a beautiful dribble move to set up a layup in transition. As has been the case recently, though, the bulk of his damage was done by setting up his teammates.
In the first quarter, the Dubs brought more energy than the Mavericks on both sides of the ball. The Warriors starting wings (Moses Moody, Andrew Wiggins, and Gary Payton II) each had an opportunity to guard Luke Dončić, and all of them gave him problems. Several turnovers gave Golden State the opportunity to open things up in transition. Curry was creating open shots in the half-court while the Warriors defense created opportunities in transition. At the end of the first quarter, Dallas trailed 37-24.
Dallas cut the lead to single digits in the second quarter behind an offensive run sparked by Spencer Dinwiddie and threes from Reggie Bullock and Davis Bertans, but Dončić’s continued struggles limited their ability to do more damage. Growing frustrated with the Warriors' defensive efforts, Dončić became more prone to chasing fouls and arguing with the referees. Eventually, he was hit with a technical foul that seemed to kill Dallas’ momentum.
The Warriors stretched out a 21-point lead in the third quarter, but Dallas brought the score to 88-74 entering the fourth. Then, for the first time since before the All-Star break, the Warriors entered a horrendous offensive funk while Dončić finally stopped getting in his own way with poor shot selection and turnovers. As the Warriors scored just one point over more than five minutes of regulation in the fourth quarter, the Mavs bench started cutting into the lead before Dončić returned to the game to help Dallas take a 95-94 lead with 3:18 remaining.
Luka finally kicked into gear as the game approached its conclusion. He made two huge baskets and set Spencer Dinwiddie up for a corner three over the next couple of minutes that helped Dallas extend their lead to 102-96. Still, Dinwiddie’s overall performance should not be ignored. Shooting 10-for-14 from the field, the Mavericks deadline acquisition scored 24 points on Sunday.
Curry scored five late points, but a missed layup loomed large and left the Warriors in desperation mode. Fouled with less than ten seconds remaining, Dončić knocked down a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach. He finished with 9 turnovers but amassed a game-high 33 points alongside 11 rebounds.
Golden State’s young players struggled mightily on Sunday. Jordan Poole finished 0-for-7 from the field with just 4 points and 1 assist in nearly 20 minutes of action. Jonathan Kuminga looked out of sorts at times and committed 5 fouls and 4 turnovers. Moody finished just 2-for-6 from the field with 5 points and 5 rebounds in more than 24 minutes.
Curry finished 11-for-25 from the field, just 3-for-10 from three, with 27 points and 10 assists. He probably would have had close to 15 assists if the Dubs shooting from deep did not collapse in the second half (the rest of the Warriors finished 8-for-29 from three).
Payton, Wiggins. and Kevon Looney each had some contributions to help push Golden State across the finish line, but none were able to deliver enough offensively in the closing minutes. Looney recorded 8 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Wiggins finished with 18 points but fouled out. Payton added 13 points and 3 steals but made just 1 one of his 5 three-point attempts.
The Warriors will have Monday off before beginning a four-game road trip on Tuesday, March 1st against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 5:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.
Our own Marc Delucchi is breaking down the Warriors crushing loss to the Mavericks over on Twitch. Go join the chat as he breaks down the Dubs latest game and looks ahead at their upcoming schedule: