Golden State snatches the game from Dallas in the final moments, as Stephen Curry and the Warriors narrowly defeat the Mavs at the Oracle Arena, 95-93.
Dallas led most of the way, often by double-digits, and held a 12 point lead at halftime. They led by six with just 1:25 remaining. 16 fourth quarter points from Curry, emphatically punctuated by a pump-fake and dagger against Dallas' best defender, Shawn Marion, erased all that.
Curry finished with a game high 33, and essentially carried the Golden State offense throughout, although he also committed 8 turnovers. Dallas received 21 apiece from Dirk and Monta, but it would not be enough. Ellis would miss a 13 foot shot with 24 seconds left, and neither he nor Nowitzki got another chance because Dallas had used their last two timeouts to set up the previous possessions. In fairness, with about two seconds, a good look would not have been assured, anyway.
The matchup started promisingly enough for the Mavs. Neither team was particularly effective in the opening quarter, but Dallas managed to build an eight point advantage as the Warriors went over seven minutes of game action without a field goal. Golden State shot under 30% for the period. Monta Ellis picked up two fouls very early, but Rick Carlisle re-inserted him into the game as the quarter winded down, and Monta responded a pair of layups in the final minute to make it 23-16 Dallas.
Dallas carried over this momentum into the second quarter, opening with six quick points(including two Ellis-assisted Jae Crowder layups). The lead had suddenly swelled to 13. The two teams went back and forth, the Dallas lead bouncing around somewhere six and 10. Jose Calderon scored 10 of his 15 first half points in the second to carry the Dallas offense during that stretch. With three minutes left until halftime, Dirk Nowitzki checked back in, and promptly hit two deep threes in his defender's face. The Dallas lead had reached its apex at 52-34.
In the third, Stephen Curry started to look for his shot more, as ESPN's pregame scouting report indicated he would. A three with six and a half left in the quarter made it 62-56, and it was clear Curry was getting warm. However, for a while, six appeared to be the threshold Golden State could simply not cross, as Calderon responded out of the timeout with a three of his own and Dallas doubled the lead again at 12. The Warriors would make another run, just before the quarter buzzer, and a Harrison Barnes three made it six again heading into the fourth.
As I said, though, six looked as close as the home team would come. the Mavs scored the first six points of the final quarter, doubling their lead back to 12 yet again. Unfortunately, Stephen Curry was absolutely steaming by this point, and after his teammates had helped him whittle the margin back to the dreaded six, three pointers on consecutive possessions by Del's son tied the game up at 82 apiece.
Not to be outdone with 4th quarter heroics, Dirk would check back in, and nail a pair of jumpers, the second coming with a foul. A third Dirk jumper came a few minutes left, to make it six. After a David Lee basket, Dallas responded with a beautiful backdoor feed from Jose Calderon to Monta, and Dallas again was at six, this time with just 1:25 left.
The rest I'd just as soon forget. Calderon's four point play on Curry helped open the door, though there were plenty of mistakes from others as well. Stephen Curry's shooting did the rest.
This must undoubtedly feel like a game the Mavs let slip away, as a poor offensive showing from most Golden State players not named Curry had all but landed the game in Dallas' collective lap. Two missed free throws(one from Dirk and one from Ellis), and Calderon's somewhat questionable foul on Curry that gave him a four-point play opportunity were key mistakes, and the sort that look devastating in hindsight.
The loss now ties Dallas and Golden State in terms of record, and due to conference record the Mavs now technically sit outside the playoffs. They are 4-6 in their last 10.
- The gameball really couldn't go to anyone but Curry. ESPN cited some stat that showed his tendency to try and distribute early before looking for his own shot late. That played out exactly here, and while it's easy to blame Calderon's(admittedly terrible) defense, remember that in the third Dallas tried switching Shawn Marion on him with less than terrific results. Marion, as I mentioned, was also on Curry for his final shot.
- Curry gets the headlines, to be sure, but I was also very impressed by the defense of Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green. Bogut had 18 rebounds and absolutely swallowed up Dallas' bigs. As for Green, I know there are those that love Barnes, but Green might be the real keeper there. Golden State has defended astonishingly better with Green on the court since he entered the league, and is a big reason the team hasn' t completely sunk into the ocean at that end without Andre Iguodala.
- For Dallas, the offense was fairly balanced. Dirk started hot and finished hot, with some bumps in the middle, en route to an efficient night. Ellis might have a less attractive box score, going 8-20, but watching the game I can recall a few too many possessions where he didn't get the ball until the shot clock was winding down and he had to hoist. He probably thought he was back in Golden State for a second.
- Jose Calderon was great in the first half, but disappeared almost after that, and as much as I want to praise him for his shooting and his intelligent running of an offense, lately he's been giving up more than he's been getting. Curry lit him up for 33 tonight, after Damian Lillard tossed in 32 last Saturday, and Jrue Holiday 26 the game before. Calderon especially seems to struggle contesting threes, as that trio combined to shoot 15-25(60%) from behind the line.
- I mentioned the Dallas bigs. Combined 2-12 shooting night. Dallas again was outrebounded. Before the team addresses point guard defense they probably need to address the center position as a whole, because right now its the drag factor for the Mavs. It's true that Brandan Wright and Devin Harris will likely be on the court again relatively soon, so maybe that will solve both problems. We can hope.