The Mavericks fell to the Golden State Warriors Thursday evening, 121-103. Kevin Durant led a balanced Warriors attack, scoring 24 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Dennis Smith Jr. was the high point man for Dallas with 22 points.
The Golden State Warriors are known for their sloppy starts lately and the opening quarter proved no different against the Dallas Mavericks. With Harrison Barnes sitting his second straight game with ankle issues, J.J. Barea joined the starting line up in an attempt to keep scoring pace with the World Champion Warriors. Five turnovers in the period aided the Mavericks as they jumped out to an early lead through a balanced team effort. Three offensive rebounds from Dwight Powell were key for the Mavericks as they kept the Warriors at bay. Golden State would eventually tie the game at 21 all, but Dallas responded with an end of quarter run to finish the frame up ten, 33-23.
Dallas kept the effort high in the second quarter as they attempted to fight off a high intensity Golden State offense. Dwight Powell continued to wreck the Warriors on offense, helping Dallas keep a seven to nine point lead for the first part of the quarter. On one fast break possession Maxi Kleber knocked Draymond Green to the ground on a lay up attempt. This seemed to shake some of the fog from Golden State as both Green and Kevin Durant suddenly came alive and fought back to tie the game. Yet the Mavericks survived the body blows from the Warrior superstars as both Powell and Dennis Smith Jr. went shot for shot with Golden State. A Dirk Nowitzki corner three, followed by a Wesley Matthews iso jumper gave Dallas a five point lead which evaporated as quickly as it appeared, through a wide open Steph Curry three and an Andre Igoudala dunk to tie the game. Both teams headed to the half with 60 points a piece.
The third quarter opened ominously, with Green and Klay Thompson hitting back to back threes. The Mavericks fought back before the game got out of hand as both Smith and Powell chipped in baskets. A Dirk Nowitzki jumper gave the Mavericks a lead again which Wesley Matthews extended on a three point basket. Kevin Durant broke the 10 point Maverick run with a three of his own, then the Warriors took the lead on a Zaza Pachulia lay in. The teams would exchange ties and leads a few more times before the Warriors finally took an 80-79 lead on a Kevin Durant dunk at the four minute mark in the third. The Mavericks would hang around for the remainder of the quarter before a Steph Curry driving lay up and and one broke the floodgates for the Warriors with 1:30 left in the period. After struggling to hold a lead, the Warriors quickly extended the small lead to eight points as the frame ended. Dallas entered the final quarter down 85-93.
I started writing this at the start of the fourth. The Warriors scored the first seven points of the period and didn’t look back. The Mavericks attempted to stop the bleeding and work their way back into the contest, but once the Warriors had their foot on the gas, they did not let up. I could say interesting things happened at this point in the game, but it wouldn’t be true. Dallas did their equivalent of clearing the bench around the eight minute mark and Golden State soon followed. Dallas fell to the Warriors, 121-103
Now, some thoughts
Dirk, still hilariously good
One wouldn’t expect a stat line of 16 points, 11 rebounds, and five steals against a team as good as the Warriors, and yet here we are. There’s nothing more to say at this point, but I like talking about Dirk, you like reading about Dirk, and more people need to understand just how amazing he still is. He’s four months away from forty and got a pereinnal defensive player of the year candidate to bite on his pump fake twice in the same possession.
He also had a one footer in the first half over Nick Young where he didn’t even dribble. The footwork and timing are impeccable. I could babble on about it forever.
The swagger of Dennis Smith Jr.
There’s something about a player who realizes that he belongs. It’s happened to Dennis in 2018. I’m sure he’s always known, but there’s a gravity about him know that opposing teams recognize. He’s relentless once he puts his head down and his shooting mechanics are starting to look better.
He’s still relying on the stepback a bit too often, particularly if his shot’s falling early. Smith finished 8 of 18 primarily because he took a number of shots in second half that were not great looks.
But man he’s fun. I took a crappy vine of him nearly dunking on the entire Warriors team. His near dunks are fun. That’s pretty amazing.
Dwight Powell, Warrior killer.
He’s averaging 19.5 points and 7 rebounds against the Warriors in 2018. Powell’s energy was the key reason the Mavericks were able to get an early jump on the Warriors. Long term, I suspect teams eventually neutralize his energy the way teams figured out Kleber. But when the team’s in injury flux like now, it’s really fun to see the havoc Powell causes.
This team isn’t very good, but at least they are fun.