1. Friday night marked the first time all season that the NBA’s most exciting player, Steph Curry, made an appearance at the American Airlines Center. The Mavs, who had lost six of their last seven, were in desperate need of a big win, and when we say "desperate,'' we mean "desperate.'' Unfortunately, the defending champs were just too much for the Mavs to handle, as they handed the Mavs a 130-112 defeat, dropping the Mavs below .500 for the first time since early November.
“No, I don’t call it a 'moral victory','' coach Rick Carlisle said. "It’s a loss where we played with great effort. We needed to make a few more shots at key times. We needed to get a little luckier with them missing a few. With a team that good, things have kind of got to go a certain way. You’ve got to make them go a certain way. The stars didn’t quite align for us.”
2. Over the last four seasons, Steph has averaged 24.6 points per game against the Mavs in 11 games, including a 51-point effort against the Mavs last season. Needless to say, he loves playing against Dallas, and so does his fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson, who went for a subtle 45 points against the Mavs back in January. Both players would put on yet another show against the Mavs, as they combined for 70 points on 54-percent shooting.
3. The Mavs got off to a hot start on the offensive end in the first quarter, keeping pace with the Warriors throughout the majority of the opening frame.
The Warriors, however, ended the quarter with Steph doing Steph things, and hitting a 31-foot three as time expired, giving Golden State a monstrous 42-point opening period to the Mavs' still-impressive 36. The Warriors were led by Curry and Klay -- shocking, I know -- who had 22 points between the two of them.
4. David Lee was obviously pumped to face his former club, tallying a double-double in just the first half. His energy and passion really helped the Mavs keep pace with the Warriors in the first half. The Mavs waiver period signing has been paying huge dividends off of the bench, and has given Dallas a totally new dimension in their rotation. ... and did so here even as he nursed a sore groin.
5. The Mavs decided to stick with the three-guard lineup for this matchup, and it turned out to be the right decision, for the most part. The doubters can say what they want, but this lineup -- with Dirk at center (9-of-16 for 24 points, with nine rebounds and four assists) gave the Mavs the ability to keep up with Golden State on the offensive end, as much as anybody can, anyways.
6. The second period of action was yet another offensive track meet between these two teams. Both teams came to a stalemate of 31 points apiece. The Splash Brothers led the way for Golden State, with a combined 42 points in the first half, with Dirk and David Lee leading the way for Dallas with 12 points apiece.
7. The referees missed a few calls in the first half that should have resulted in scoring opportunities from the charity stripe for the Mavs. No one is trying to make any excuses here, but against a team like the Warriors, you need every point you can get, and the Mavs were robbed of a few of those chances early.
8. The Warriors are on pace to have the best record in the history of the NBA this season now at 62-6, while averaging a league high 115.7 points per game on a league best 48.9 percent shooting from the field. Golden State also holds opponents to just 43.5 percent shooting, which is second best in the league coming into Friday night’s game. So yeah… They’re a pretty good team.
They are probably the only team in the NBA right now that doesn’t have a true definable weakness. Statistically, they do struggle defending the paint a bit, but they are also fourth-best in the league at blocking shots… so there’s that. They pass, shoot, score, defend, and rebound. The type of basketball they are playing this year has been simply remarkable. If any team capable of breaking the Bulls single-season wins record, it’s these guys.
9. We could talk about Steph Curry and his MVP-caliber season all day long if we wanted to. He’s arguably the best player in the NBA today, even though Mark Jackson thinks he’s ruining the game. (Mark really needs to clarify his thoughts, over and over, until they're actually ... clear.)
But Curry isn’t the only player on this team. When healthy, the Warriors are capable of throwing 11 or 12 different players at you in a variety of different ways. They can pound you inside, they can outshoot you, they can out-scheme and they can outrun you. But when you add Steph to the mix, this team is almost unbeatable.
10. Zaza Pachulia’s minutes continue to decrease, and it’s honestly pretty puzzling to me. Zaza adds a brand of toughness to this team that it just doesn’t have without him on the floor. And when you’re playing a team of this style, you need tough, aggressive rebounding inside, as well as the ability to punish your opponent when they drive to the hoop. Zaza can do all of those things. He also is far and away the Mavs most efficient rebounder, which makes it hard to understand why his minutes have been reduced, especially considering the Mavs rebounding woes of late. The Mavs did do a decent job on the boards in this one, but the presence of Zaza certainly would have helped their case in that area.
11. This game is a perfect example of why Mavs fans are so frustrated right now. When they are on, the Mavs can keep up with the best of the best.
Listen to Rick: “We can play with anybody; a few days ago we beat the team with the longest winning streak in the league. We’re in a parity league. The bottom line is each night it’s tipping by fractions. When you play a team as good as Golden State, you’ve got to tip it by more than fractions and we didn’t do it. Couldn’t do it. Tried but couldn’t do it.”
But somehow, the Mavs have been middling at best over the last couple of months, especially against other middling teams. There are only a couple of teams capable of beating the Warriors in a seven-game series, and the Mavs did a tremendous job of keeping pace in this one ... and ... it makes one wonder where this has all been lately.
12. Things slowed down a bit in the third quarter, with Golden State holding a 94-85 lead at the end of the period. Dallas was unable to take advantage of a low-scoring period by the Warriors, managing just 18 points of their own. One of the things that helped Dallas keep it close was the Warriors cooling off from downtown in the third, something that is unusual to see of of the defending champs.
13. Chandler Parsons was sidelined early in the third quarter with a hamstring issue, and failed to return to action for the rest of the game. It was obviously a tough blow for the Mavs to lose their big perimeter gun, but Justin Anderson did what he could to fill the void in Parsons’ absence.
Said Carlisle: "We’re a little banged up, too. Parsons went out. He’s got a sore right hamstring. We don’t think it’s serious, but he was struggling to move a little bit. We didn’t want to take a risk. He’ll get treatment today and tomorrow, and we’ll see where he is on Sunday. Wes [Matthews] had a scary fall but bounced back up. Same thing with him; we’ll treat him and hope that he’s doing okay come Sunday.”
14. Indeed, in that frightening moment midway through the fourth quarter, Wes Matthews appeared (at least at first) to seriously injure himself while driving to the hoop. Considering Wes’s battle back from his Achilles injury last season, fans at the AAC understandably went absolutely silent upon Wes hitting the floor and writhing in pain. Fortunately, Wes (being the battle-hardened freak-of-nature that he is) was able to come back into the game after the injury time out. Our medically-uneducated opinions don't want to assume, but we will update Wes and CP’s status as more information becomes available.
15. I don’t think Mavs nation has seen their team put as much effort and passion into a game this season as they did on Friday night. It’s one of the best games they have put together from start to finish all season long. From Devin Harris forcing a shot-clock violation on Shaun Livingston, to David Lee coming down with a rebound over the entire Warriors team earlier in the game, they left it all out on the floor here.
16. Ultimately, the Mavs were just unable to keep up down the stretch, with Golden State skating away to a 130-112 victory, and handing Dallas the seventh loss in their last eight outings. Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 39 points, while Curry added 31 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. The Mavs were led by Dirk (24 points and nine boards) and David Lee, who added 16 points and 16 boards.
Trying to outscore the Warriors is like running in quicksand with cinderblocks attached to your ankles ... blindfolded. The Warriors play an entirely different brand of basketball than anyone has ever seen. It’s unnaturally grand and absolutely terrifying to opposing fans. Like we said before, this was one of the best games we’ve seen the Mavs play all season long, and the Warriors still beat them by 18 points. That’s just how good Golden State is.
Stat(s) of the night: Disgusting shooting by Golden State. The Warriors shot an insane 22-of-38 (58 percent) from three and 50.5 percent from the field over all.
Sharing the rock. Golden State had 35 assists to just 12 turnovers for the game. That is efficient basketball, ladies and gentlemen.
This game was over when... Golden State decided it was. It seemed like the Mavs had a legitimate shot at pulling this thing out at one point in the fourth quarter, but then the defending champs decided they had had enough, and quickly put an end to the Mavs upset bid.
The Injury to CP was also a big factor here, as he left the game early in the second half and was unable to return.
Should have seen coming... The Splash Brothers. Curry and Thompson are the most dynamic scoring duo in the NBA and love playing against the Mavs, so it comes as no surprise that they combined for 70 points between the two of them. Curry was also just one rebound away from a triple-double, finishing with 31 points, 10 assists and nine boards for the game.
Said Dirk: "They're incredible. Usually a team has one scorer or shooter like that. ... But they have two."
Couldn't see coming... The Mavs staying close. On paper, this game should have been a blowout. And don’t let the score fool you, it was far from a that. The Mavs battled hard for 48 minutes, and did a more than admirable job against the historically-good Warriors.
What's next? The Mavs (34-35) will welcome Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers (36-34) to the American Airlines Center on Sunday afternoon at 3. It will be the first of two-straight match-ups against the Blazers, who will host the Mavs on Wednesday night at 9 at the Moda Center. Dallas is 34-35 and now just one game ahead of Jazz for the 8th seed.
The Final Word: “The effort was great. We’re playing a great team, who, even for them, had an exceptional shot-making night. ... We just didn’t quite have enough in the tank to get over the hump.'' - Rick Carlisle.