Wednesday was a day for “concession speeches.’’
The Dallas Mavericks gave theirs on a stage in Oakland, in front of the “Make Basketball Great Again’’ Golden State Warriors, and it came in the form of the starting lineup coach Rick Carlisle turned into the scorer’s table.
That lineup card did not include the names of icon Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles soreness) or starting point guard Deron Williams (left calf strain) or D-Will’s caddie JJ Barea, or starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews, or starting center Andrew Bogut.
“The schedule dictated the rest for these guys,” Carlisle explained.
In other words, this was a “scheduled loss,’’ a blemish on the NBA that puts teams in the unfortunate position of playing back-to-back road games. Dallas won on Tuesday at the Lakers, essentially setting this game up to be a semi-forfeit.
Those aren’t the words Carlisle would ever use, but …
“Right now, we’ve got to get our veteran guys healthy and get our team back together, and then get our formula right,’’ he said. “That’s where we are, and right now the realities of our situation are dictating who’s playing.”
So Dallas’ first team featured ex-Warrior Harrison Barnes, coming off his consecutive 30-points-plus explosions and a quartet of young guys who would be D-League-dominant: Seth Curry (starting against his famous brother Steph for the first time), Justin Anderson, Dwight Powell and undrafted rookie Dorian Finney-Smith. And when I mention the D-League, I’m not sniping or being sarcastic; Curry, Anderson and Powell have all taken their tuns with the JV and Finney-Smith barely avoided such a full-time assignment before making the big club this fall … and still may be at some point earmarked for a turn in Frisco.
None of this, of course, is why the Warriors recorded a 116-95 blowout that sent Dallas to 2-6; that was likely going to happen, anyway, maybe because of the demands of the schedule but almost certainly because Golden State — talented enough to lose Barnes and Bogut from their roster but to replenish it with the Kevin Durant get and look better than ever — just keeps rolling from its NBA title to its 73-win season.
The damage was done largely from the perimeter as the best 3-point team in NBA history featured Steph, Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all hitting at four treys — unprecedented in an NBA game.
In total, the Warriors made 17-of-33 three-pointers, leaving Dallas with only the feel-good moment of Bogut and Barnes getting warm receptions at Oracle and Barnes again playing well enough to coerce MFFLs over to his side.
“It was nice,” Barnes said of crowd’s applause. “The fans here are phenomenal. They showed love ever since my rookie year up until my last year here, so that was very nice.”
Barnes scored 25 points with eight rebounds. That’s good. But Thompson exploded for 18 of his 20 points in the first quarter as the home team took a 34-15 advantage into the second period. At one point the Warriors were up 43-20 midway through the second, then up by 33, then into intermission up 67-36 disadvantage entering the halftime break.
Thompson got his. Steph scored 24, committing some Curry-on-Curry crime. Durant had 28 points and 10 rebounds.
Was it all just about a bad first half?
“In the first half, it was kind of like a deer in headlights,’’ Barnes said. “It was kind of like the scouting report went out the window. We were just out there playing. But I think once guys settled in, we did a much better job.”
Given the way Carlisle’s kids fought in the second half, “concession’’ would, again, be a word Rick would argue with. And it did get a little better. Rookies Nicolas Brussino and AJ Hammonds -- two guys who might see some Frisco time this year got into the game, and Nic scored a 3 while Hammonds was good for a quick nine points and three boards in six minutes. Anderson had 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Powell added 14 points and nine rebounds inside. Seth Curry had 10 points, nine assists and five steals.
“In the first half, we were all disappointed,’’ Carlisle said. “The second half was 100 percent better. A team like Golden State that has the stars and has a loud building, these guys have got to experience what that’s like at the beginning of a game. You can’t duplicate the experience that they got …’’
True. You can’t duplicate this sort of experience, where you are fighting but conceding that the fight is unwinnable.
And in most ways, you don’t want to duplicate this sort of experience … but for maybe once every four years.