The Hawks were reeling. The Mavs were up 17. The low-hanging fruit of a win vs. the East was…
First Impressions: Warriors 95, Mavs 93
The Dallas Mavericks are now 13-10 ... and are left wondering what might have been during this now-completed four-game roadie, finishing a disappointing 2-2. A big win at New Orleans. A bigger win at Portland. A stinker at Sacto. And Wednesday night in the Bay Area ... the dreaded trip that keeps us all up past our bedtimes, and forces us to inundate our workplaces with excessive yawning throughout the following day.
And there will be much to analyze in the following day, and days.
The Mavericks faded late and fell to the Warriors 95-93 despite opening the game strong, leading 23-16 after the first quarter and then building as much as an 18 point lead on their way to a 55-44 advantage at halftime.
And that halftime edge should've been the foundation of a victory; this year, Dallas was 9-1 when holding an opponent under 50 points in first halves.
*But then came a Samuel Dalembert brain cramp, when he received a pick-and-roll pass to the rim and opted to attempt a baked layup rather than a dunk. His miss seemed to suck the life out of a Dallas team that had a big lead ... and started losing it right after this play.
*And then came Steph Curry's takeover of the game, as he scored 14 points in the final six minutes, including the game-winner with 1.5 seconds, as he pump-faked Shawn Marion out of position and nailed it to finish with 33 points.
"I thought we played Curry decently," Nowitzki said. "Marion was on him. Probably been our best perimeter defender for a long time and that's a match-up we like. Curry just got him up in the air. It's a tough play. Stepped under him and made a tough shot."
That shot preceded a Dallas possession that was all Monta, who missed a 15-footer that might have won the game and will no doubt cause many to wonder if Dirk wasn't the superior option.
*And then came the Mavs' final desperation possession, with no timeouts and the length of the floor to navigate. They didn't deserve a break, but by gosh the Warriors bench seemed to give them one. Several Warriors sprinted to the playing floor after Curry's make. They jumped and celebrated and ... they were in violation of the rules, which of course only allows five guys on the floor during a live ball.
Why is bench jockey Nemanja Nedovic, still wearing his warmups, on the court during a live ball doing celebratory gymnastics?
This wasn't a ref loss. This was a Mavs loss -- and Rick Carlisle says it was "on him.'' (Meaning, the decision to let Monta have the final shot, the absence of a late timeout, the loss of an 18-point lead, the works.) But the zebras seemed to get caught up in the frenzy of the situation, too. And they erred in not penalizing Golden State with a technical which would've given Dallas a free throw and a possession.
But again, that's stuff to chew on in the coming days. For now, we'll observe that Jose Calderon shot the ball particularly well early, scoring 15 through two quarters on his way to 18 on the night. Nowitzki added 13 of his 21 points in the first half, highlighted by back-to-back 3's in the second quarter. (And again, maybe too few touches late.)
Dallas shot 46 percent in the first half, while holding Golden State to just 39.5 percent. The Mavericks also held their ground on the boards, matching Golden State's 25 rebounds at the midway point. And 3-pointers? The Warriors are the best in the biz, but they made six of their 16 tries while Dallas made five of 16 ... so again, the foundation for a Dallas victory was established in that first half.
Dallas maintained the lead throughout the third, despite the Warriors closing the gap to 72-66 on Curry's hot hand. He was able to knock down 2 big 3's, and reach the 17-point mark heading to the fourth. ... and you sort of knew what might be on his horizon.
The Mavericks had been 10-1 coming into this game when they own a lead into the fourth quarter, but here proved to be the exception. Fueled by Curry, the Warriors scored nine of the final 10 points in the game, with the lone point coming on split free throws from ex-Warrior Ellis, who finished with 21.
In a game controlled by the Mavericks for the majority of the evening, this loss will make for a long flight home and will inevitably be viewed as a missed opportunity. Or. ...
"You can always take a positive from this,'' Ellis said. "We played hard all the way to the end, and Steph made a great shot at the end."
We'll argue that reflection is needed. And as the Mavs don't play again until Milwaukee visits the AAC on Saturday, reflection is something all involved have time for.