The bad news is that the Golden State Warriors lost to the Dallas Mavericks 122-113 on Thursday, overcoming a 17-point deficit but proving incapable of taking a lead. The good news is that it set up an epic showdown on Saturday between the Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers, two teams that are dead set on never winning a basketball game ever again.
The Warriors offense actually looked pretty darn good against Dallas, but the defense had no answers for Luka Dončić and the Mavs’ many shooters. And as such, they lost for the fifth time in six games.
Let’s assign some blame and some credit by grading all of the players, weighting for our expectations of them.
Note: League average true-shooting percentage (TS) was 56.1% entering Thursday’s games.
37 minutes, 17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 7-for-17 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 2-for-4 free throws, 45.3% TS, -5
Wiggins started the game slowly, going 0-for-4 from the field in the first four minutes of the game. After that point he scored pretty decently, but it wasn’t enough to make his overall line look nice. It was still an inefficient game, and his 11th-straight contest with fewer than 20 points, which dates back to January.
Thankfully the Warriors didn’t really need Wiggins to step up on offense, but they did need him on defense. He was the primary assignment on Luka Dončić, and for 48 minutes it was Luka’s world and we were all just living it. Now, defending Dončić is an impossible task, but Wiggins’ defense has been freefalling with his offense over the last month, and this was another data point.
25 minutes, 8 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 4-for-4 shooting, 100.0% TS, -6
The Warriors won the rebounding battle and largely kept the Mavericks from scoring at the rim, and Looney deserves a ton of credit for both of those things. It’s not his fault that forcing the Mavericks away from the hoop resulted in some 25-footers that wouldn’t be defended by other players.
It’s amazing how frequently Looney seems to play well when the rest of the team isn’t.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
40 minutes, 21 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 8-for-15 shooting, 4-for-5 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, 68.0% TS, -8
Curry was the Warriors best player, as he so often is, but it was still an odd performance from him. He was hyper-efficient when he shot, with his three-ball looking as good as it has in a long time — but also had only 15 shooting possessions in 40 minutes. He was brilliant as a playmaker, which helped set up his teammates, yet in the fourth quarter when the Warriors tried to complete a comeback and take a lead, he didn’t take a single shot.
It was pretty clear why he didn’t: the Mavs trapped the heck out of him, and sold out entirely to get the ball out of his hands. So Curry did the selfless and smart thing, and passed. Steve Kerr praised him for it, and I’m left with mixed feelings.
Steve Kerr said that Curry "made the right plays" by passing out of a trap all 4th quarter ... didn't attempt a shot, but Moses Moody had 13 points, which Kerr credited to Curry.— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) March 4, 2022
On one hand, yeah. On the other hand, "pass the ball to Moses Moody" cannot be the reliable answer.
After the game, Curry said that he needed to figure something out to keep that from happening again, but it’s probably more a system thing. Getting Draymond Green back at some point will certainly help.
Either way, Curry was brilliant, but we were left wanting — and perhaps needing — more. I’m not sure how much blame to give him for that, but it was a pretty stark difference between he and Dončić in this game, with regards to being able to take over the game. But when Curry was able to call his own number, it was exquisite as always.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
28 minutes, 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 6-for-17 shooting, 2-for-8 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 44.7% TS, -10
Klay returned after missing two games with illness, and things didn’t go smoothly for him. Like Wiggins, he was 0-for-4 just four minutes into the game. He found his stroke in the third quarter to help key a run, but otherwise it was a pretty dismal outing.
Kerr said that Thompson was trying a little too hard and forcing the issue, while acknowledging how normal that is — after all, this was just his 18th game back after being sidelined for two and a half years. And Thompson himself was very self-critical, publicly admitting that he needs to do much better.
Klay Thomson: “I gotta make some shots. I can’t be airballing, shooting off the side of the backboard. I gotta be better. It’s on me. I did not play well tonight.” pic.twitter.com/B98hT3jbSe— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 4, 2022
It’s all about getting him up to speed by the time the playoffs roll around, and I’m confident that will happen. But the games that are clearly a step forward are a lot more fun.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
Gary Payton II
21 minutes, 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 foul, 3-for-4 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 75.0% TS, +1
It was a quiet, but solid game for Payton, who handled a variety of defensive assignments, including spending some time on Dončić, where he did decently. He also appeared to roll his ankle, so let’s hope all is okay on that front.
7 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 foul, -8
With the Warriors playing pretty awful defense, Kerr didn’t turn to Bjelica very much, which is understandable. When Bjeli was out there you could see a concerted effort to try harder on that end of the court, even if it will never be a bright spot for him. He did make a few really nice passes, even if they didn’t end up in buckets.
17 minutes, 8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 3-for-6 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 66.7% TS, +5
Kuminga didn’t have an overwhelming game, but he was on the floor for much of the comeback, and played a pretty big role. He had a huge shot as the Dubs were getting things closer, and some nice defensive stands as well.
All in all, a solid effort.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
Otto Porter Jr.
21 minutes, 1 point, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 0-for-1 shooting, 1-for-2 free throws, 26.6% TS, -1
Porter definitely didn’t do anything notable in this game, and the stat line is pretty uninteresting. But I thought he played pretty solidly. He was very active both on defense and on the glass, and provided some energy and intangibles.
The Dubs could use with a bit more output, though.
32 seconds, 0 points, 0 plus/minus
JTA just entered the game for an end-of-the-quarter defensive stand, so there’s nothing here to judge him on. I feel for him getting such sporadic minutes, but that’s the nature of the game.
27 minutes, 23 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 8-for-12 shooting, 3-for-6 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 83.6% TS, -5
Poole had two awful games coming out of the All-Star break, so it was great to see him take flight in Dallas with one of his best performances of the year. He was hyper aggressive on offense — not just in the sense of attacking the rim, but also in the sense of making a decision with the basketball as soon as it was in his hands.
He was, above all else, quick, and that was hugely to his benefit in this game.
Poole even had the highlight of the game for the Warriors, a shot from well beyond half-court to end the first quarter ... but unfortunately it didn’t count.
Poole didn't get his half-court heave off in time but WOW pic.twitter.com/PcJAnqVJnM— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 4, 2022
Post-game bonus: Led the team in scoring.
16 minutes, 13 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 5-for-5 shooting, 3-for-3 threes, 130.0% TS, -7
Moody was the star of the fourth quarter, scoring all 13 of his points in the frame without missing a shot. That included back-to-back threes that tied the game and completed the comeback.
He was aggressive, moving to the right spot on the floor, and attacking the basket. He showed off touch near the rim and from beyond the arc, and held his own in other areas of the game.
Definitely a gigantic silver lining in a mostly rough game.
Thursday’s DNPs: Chris Chiozza, Damion Lee
Thursday’s inactives: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Quinndary Weatherspoon, James Wiseman