The Dallas Mavericks defeated the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors at home Saturday night, 112-109. Luka Doncic and Harrison Barnes poured in 24 and 23 points respectively for Dallas and the team improves to 7-8 on the year. Kevin Durant scored 32 for the Warriors in defeat.
The opening period treated fans to a quick duel between Luka Doncic and Kevin Durant. Doncic hit a pair of threes while Durant reminded the crowd why he’s one of the best scorers in NBA history with some tough jumpers and a drive. The Warriors were unable to hit much of anything in early, particularly from deep. Harrison Barnes kept the Mavericks on top with a flurry of drives and free throw attempts and Dallas took a 26-22 lead into the second.
Warriors bench players, led by second year man Damian Lee, took it to the Maverick bench in the second period. Golden State quickly took the lead and after trading a few baskets with J.J. Barea, the Warriors took a seven point lead on a Lee pull up three pointer. The Maverick starters all re-entered the game midway through the quarter to settle things some. Through Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith driving the ball to the rim, Dallas closed the gap repeatedly, though they were unable to retake the lead. The Mavericks trailed at the half, 59-57.
Dallas played sloppy basketball for a good portion of the third quarter, but getting the Warriors into foul trouble half way through the period allowed the Mavericks to hold on. A combination of the bench and starters allowed Dallas to weather the usual third quarter storm from Golden State and the Mavericks trailed 86-82 to enter the final period.
With the Maverick bench trying to give the starters a few minutes rest, it looked like the Warriors might blow the game wide open, with their four point lead quickly jumping out to eight. Dorian Finney-Smith answered the mini-run with a three of his own and Devin Harris connected on a fast break three as well to trim the lead. The Mavericks briefly took a one point lead on a Dwight Powell and-one, but the Warriors rallied right back. When it appeared as if the game might get out of hand again a prayer Barea three pointer from the top of the key stopped the Warriors in their tracks.
After a much needed timeout, the majority of the starters re-entered the game and the Mavericks began their final assault on the wounded Warriors. A crazy Harrison Barnes three pointer and a pair of DeAndre Jordan free throws pulled the Mavericks within one. Then Dennis Smith made the play of the game, pulling down a tough in traffic rebound, pushing the ball up the floor, and threading a gorgeous bounce pass in traffic to a cutting Finney-Smith who finished the lay in to give Dallas the lead.
Though Golden State would take the lead right back on a dunk following a blown defensive rotation from Dallas, Luka Doncic once again came through in the clutch. Wonderboy got the mismatch he wanted with 8 seconds left on shot clock and just over a minute of game action and hit a floater to give Dallas a one point lead they would not give up. Despite a few chances to tie or take the lead, the Warriors were unable to convert and the Dallas Mavericks ended the evening with a 112-109 victory.
Now, some thoughts:
Dennis Smith, floor general
The sophomore season is rarely easy for NBA players. Rookies have high expectations and lofty margins for error. Yet second year players can often get picked apart and here at Mavs Moneyball we’ve been particularly hard on Smith.
Understanding that, hear this: that was the best performance from Smith this season. As a scorer and as a play maker, Smith showed early and often why the Dallas Mavericks organization has confidence in him. His stat line looks fine: 14 points and six assists. He also had zero turnovers, which is key in a season where the entire Dallas starting is guilty of sloppy ball control.
Smith’s understanding and trust, particularly with DeAndre Jordan rolling to the rim and ducking under the basket, were key against the Warriors. Then we have this play, which I hope Smith gets to see on repeat, since this play was perhaps the most important sequence of the evening:
This was the sequence of the game. What a play by Dennis and DFS pic.twitter.com/4eVELXnL50— Kirkout 76 (@KirkSeriousFace) November 18, 2018
Process, results, Harrison Barnes, and a victory
This should provoke a great deal of discussion: the Harrison Barnes isolation offense is rough stuff in my opinion. This victory against the Warriors came in large part because of Barnes’ ability to take and make tough shots as well as a renewed ablity to get to the free throw line. Eight of his 11 attempts came from drawing fouls (the other three were technical foul free throws), which were key in helping Dallas stay within range.
Yet I can’t help but feel like the Harrison Barnes output comes at the expense of other players. The Maverick TV crew was so excited at his singular assist, and while it was a nice play, you’d think a guy who shoots as often has he does could average more than 1.3 helpers per game.
I’m very possibly being ridiculous here, because if Barnes is going to go iso-heavy and he’s at minimum drawing fouls and shooting 4-5 free throws a game, then maybe this doesn’t matter. They won, after all, and Barnes played stellar defense on Kevin Durant down the stretch.
Dorian Finney-Smith should start
One day we’re all going to have to talk about how bad Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith are at aspects of defense, but it’s not right now.
But keeping that in mind, if Dallas is going to have some poor defensive players in the starting line up, the least they could do is have a really good wing defender out there in Finney-Smith. Wesley Matthews is still a very valuable player for what the Mavericks need, but he’s better suited with the second team. Finney-Smith has proven that he’s a better fit for what the Mavericks need at the moment.
Maybe that will change, maybe DFS is simply on a hot streak, but he’s been good enough to where the coaching staff has to consider keeping him in this part of the rotation.
Sometimes you just have to get lucky
The Dallas Mavericks gave up 12 offensive boards and missed 12 free throws. Those two stats alone scream that they should have lost this game. Yet they did not as the Warriors couldn’t get much to fall in the fourth. Sometimes you need luck and I’m sure the Mavericks will take it.