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3 things we learned as the Mavericks fall in Golden State 112-97

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Kevin Durant carves up Dallas

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks fell on the road Thursday night to the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, 112-97. Kevin Durant torched the Mavericks, scoring a season high 36 points, while also grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing seven assists. Dirk Nowitzki was the high point man in defeat for Dallas, chipping in 18 points on 6 of 13 from the floor.

The Mavericks started the game hot, jumping out to an early lead. The Warriors appeared unprepared for the unconventional Maverick lineup and took most of the quarter to come alive. Dallas jumped out to a 14-8 lead before a Warriors timeout settled Golden State. Kevin Durant took control offensively for Golden State but it didn’t matter much as J.J. Barea continued his recent string of stellar play, hitting a three and a two point jumper. While the Warriors would take a brief one point lead, the Mavericks ended the period up 28-24.

A give and go between Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris opened the second quarter. Dallas extended the six point lead to eight with the sweet back cut play from Barea to Harris. A Warriors timeout resulted in a series of scores to bring the lead down to three for the Mavericks. Though Dallas would extend the lead to eight again, a pair of sloppy Wesley Matthews turnovers allowed Golden State to find a sense of rhythm. The teams exchanged buckets down the stretch and ended the half with a 48-48 tie.

The third quarter got funky in a hurry. Though Dirk Nowitzki opened the half with a three, the talent of the Warriors (well, Kevin Durant) started to win out. A Kevin Durant three broke a 61-61 tie and Golden State wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the quarter. Though Dallas would chip in buckets here and there, Golden State continued to build the lead. Durant seemed particularly unstoppable , connecting on contested threes and shrugging off the defensive attempts of all Mavericks while pouring in 15 points in the period. Golden State took an 80-73 lead into the fourth.

The final quarter went about how you’d expect. The Mavericks did Maverick-y things to keep the game sort of close for a while, then the Warriors blew the doors off with a flurry of scoring. The back-to-back threes from Klay Thompson near the eight minute mark gave the Warriors a 92-79 lead which felt insurmountable.

It was. Dallas found a way to get two point baskets, while Klay answered with three point baskets (he hit four of them in the quarter). The math there means the Warriors lead grew and grew, to 21 points, before Dallas closed the gap some during garbage time. Golden State won 112-98.

And now, some thoughts:

Dallas is a collection of role players all playing really well, but so what?

They’ve roughly split their last thirteen games (6-7), which has been fun but feels more than a little pointless. With Dennis Smith Jr. sitting due to injury, wins without him serve very little purpose. It’s nice to see J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, and Dwight Powell play well, but none of those guys are going to be here for the duration of the rebuild. The Mavericks don’t have enough developmental players to soak up minutes right now so they’ll remain weirdly competitive despite not being very good.

Dirk should play forever!

He’s really rounded into form after a rough start and poured in 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. He’s more or less indicated that should his good health continue, he’d be up for finishing out his contract. I’d like to see his minutes cap at around 25, but past that, there’s no complaints regarding the Big German. Enjoy the hell out of it people.

The Warriors are really quite good.

Didn’t you know? The roster building is just so starkly different between these two teams. Golden State has such length and ball handling whereas Dallas is all guards and a few big men who really don’t fit in the NBA anymore. It’s really stark in games like this when the score gets out of hand. Dallas can compete, just because Carlisle’s a wizard, but grit can only get you so far.