For a while it looked like the Golden State Warriors would return the favor and exact some revenge on the Dallas Mavericks for Sunday’s game. You remember that game: the Warriors led by 21 in the third quarter, at home, and managed to lose.
The Mavs led Thursday night’s game by 17 in the third quarter, at home, and a furious Dubs comeback looked like it would result in one of the more satisfying wins of the year.
But it was not to be, as Dallas had just enough clutch shots stored away to pull out their second win over Golden State in five days, 122-113.
The Warriors played fairly well, but the Mavericks simply refused to miss shots all night long.
It was that way from the start of the first quarter, when it felt like Dallas made every shot en route to a 38-point quarter. Luka Dončić feasted, with 19 points in the quarter — that, combined with slow starts from Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, who were both 0-for-4 after four minutes, gave Dallas a quick lead, and it was 11 after the first quarter.
But there were reasons for optimism, as the Warriors offense was moving the ball brilliantly, while the team attacked the rim relentlessly ... they just couldn’t make their shots.
It was more of the same in the second quarter. This time it was Dorian Finney-Smith (who finished with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting) and Dwight Powell (13 points on 5-for-8 shooting) who did the bulk of the damage, pushing the lead to 16 despite the best efforts of Wiggins and Jordan Poole.
Golden State’s defense wasn’t good, but it wasn’t as bad as Dallas made it look. The Mavs took a 14-point lead into the break with some eye-popping shooting percentages: 59.0% from the field, and 64.7% from the three-point line.
It was fitting then that a three early in the third quarter gave the Mavs their biggest lead of the game at 17 points. But then the Dubs started a comeback. Thompson started to catch fire — hilariously triggered by an accidentally banked-in three — and Steph Curry (who finished with 21 points and 9 assists on 8-for-15 shooting) masterfully mixed expert shotmaking and playmaking. The Mavs continued to make shot after shot in response, as the teams went tit for tat, and Dallas took an eight-point lead into the final frame.
And then, surprisingly, the rookies took over, with Jonathan Kuminga knocking in a few timely shots, and Moses Moody erupting for 13 points in the quarter — without missing a shot. Back-to-back threes by Moody tied the game for the Dubs, and the comeback was complete.
But the Warriors didn’t know how to convert a comeback into a lead. They never pulled ahead of Dallas, and as soon as they had tied it, Dončić took matters into his own hands, iso-ing on nearly every play, and looking equal parts Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant as he poured in 41 points on 15-for-26 shooting, to go with 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
The Dubs had no answer for him, and you could see the young All-Star taking the wind out of Golden State’s sails as he handed them their third straight loss, and their fifth in the last six games.