OAKLAND – No matter the venue or the time zone, the Dallas Mavericks continue to be snake-bitten on the road.
The Mavs put up a valiant effort Saturday night at Oracle Arena, but the Golden State Warriors held on to squeak out a 120-116 victory before a sellout crowd of 19,596. It was the sixth consecutive road loss for the Mavs and dropped their overall record on the road to a dismal 2-13.
This also was the fifth straight loss for the Mavs as they dropped below .500 (15-16) for the first time since they were 8-9 back on Nov. 21.
The Mavs led for most of the way and gave the two-time defending NBA champions all they could handle, then somehow fell behind by 18 points (111-93) with 7:51 remaining in the third quarter. But with the injured Luka Doncic on the bench for the game’s final 6:13, the Mavs rallied and actually had a chance to go ahead.
However, with the Mavs down 117-116, Harrison Barnes misfired on a 3-pointer with 33.5 seconds remaining and Kevin Durant sealed it for the Warriors when he banged in a 3-pointer with 15.6 seconds to go.
“I didn’t make any (shots) tonight, but that one felt good,” said Barnes, who scored 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting. “I had a good look.”
Earlier, with the Mavs trailing 117-115, DeAndre Jordan went to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game with 59.5 seconds left. Jordan, however, split the two free throws, then stole a pass from Draymond Green to set up the dramatic ending when the shot by Barnes went astray.
“He got a good look,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Look, I trust our players to create and he created a good look.
“He liked it, he went up decisively and just — we won’t make every shot. The process was good. We just got to stay with the process.”
The Mavs had to stay with the process without Doncic, who fell hard on the floor and slid into a chair when he tried to maneuver past Green while driving for a fast break layup. Doncic, who was very aggressive all night and wound up with three dunks, suffered a right hip contusion and finished the game with 19 points and five assists.
“I just fell down,” Doncic said. “I know that I hit the key and I don’t know if I hit something else.
“We’ll see tomorrow how it is, if I can play.”
Doncic came out with guns ablaze as he fired in a pair of 3-pointers right out of the gate. He later added a three-point play, another 3-pointer and a beautiful driving dunk to give him 14 points and the Mavs a 24-22 lead with 3:24 left in the first quarter.
“I felt great,” Doncic said. “I was using my step-back, which I always do, and I played with energy and that’s how I did at the start of the game.”
A Jordan alley-oop dunk off a feed from Doncic moved the Mavs out front, 31-22, late in the first quarter. But with Stephen Curry pouring in 11 of his 22 points in the second quarter, Golden State got within 61-58 of the Mavs at intermission.
Then, after the Mavs were nursing an 81-77 lead, suddenly the walls came crashing down as the Warriors went on a 34-12 run and bolted ahead 111-93. Ironically, it was primarily reserve center Jonas Jerebko who played an extremely key role during that Warriors’ rally, including scoring the final seven points of his career-high 23 points during the surge.
“He’s a made a lot of big plays this year,” Carlisle said of Jerebko. “He had a game-winning tip-in in Utah, he’s has some big nights.
“It’s no shock that the guy can make open shots, and he plays with effort. Everybody knows abuot him. He hurt us, no question about it.”
The Mavs, who had seven players score 10 or more points, were also hurt because they missed 10 free throws and got outrebounded 54-46. However, Jordan held up his end of the bargain as he corralled a season-high tying 23 boards – exactly half of the Mavs’ total.
“Our level of fight was good all night, and that’s a positive,” Carlisle said. “But a five-game losing streak is not a positive.
“There’s a lot of little things we can do better. The rebounding hurt us tonight, the free throw line has been an issue on this trip. We did a great job with turnovers in the first half, we struggled in the second half, so we’ve got to continue to keep that as a priority to keep ball security at a premium, and we just to keep moving forward.”
Dirk Nowitzki made a major step forward on Saturday when he played in both halves for the first time this season. Nowitzki played seven minutes in the first half and five minutes in the second half and finished with three points and was 1-of-4 from the field.
“Obviously I’ve come a long way since the Phoenix game just wind-wise and legs-wise,” Nowitzki said. “But I still got a lot of work left to do.
“So overall I’m encouraged, but I got to still keep working.”
The Mavs, who play at Portland on Sunday at 8 p.m., also have to keep working if they have designed on ending their five-game losing streak.
“This season we have done a good job of fighting and going up against adversity, and tonight was one of those things where they kind of got into a rhythm,” Barnes said. “We got down a little bit there in the second half and we can do better.
“We brought it to a couple of points, so we just have to bring that same fight to tomorrow.”
NOTES: Before the game, coach Rick Carlisle talked about some of the challenges Luka Doncic faces in his first year in the NBA. “In his case he has a background as a professional for several years, but there is a higher frequency of games here,” Carlisle said. “That’s got to be a big adjustment. And he is still, in most cases, going his first time around the NBA, so seeing new things every night.”. .Carlisle discussed putting his trust in Doncic to run the Mavs’ offense. “We’ve had a progression that’s been a little bit unpredictable,” Carlisle said. “We’ve had injuries and so on and so forth that have facilitated him having the ball more than expected. Off of his European films it certainly looked like being a point guard in the NBA was certainly possible and perhaps probable. People didn’t expect him to do what he’s done so far. But that said, he’s got a pretty good level of humility, he’s got a good vibe with his teammates and he’s learning what it’s like to be in a different kind of grind in the NBA with three-and-a-half games a week instead of two. It’s a big difference.”. .Carlisle expressed how Dirk Nowitzki has been an inspirational mentor to young players like Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson. “Well, there is no substitute for having an all-time great player that is meticulous in his preparation for everything from preparing his body, preparing his game, day-to-day, game-to-game,” Carlisle said. “It’s been a different kind of situation with Dirk coming back from his surgery. He didn’t participate in training camp, he didn’t play in the first game of the season. Guys like Doncic and Brunson and Dennis Smith Jr. — there are others — Finney-Smith, they get to see what it’s like to operate in a process that can lead to greatness.” . .After grabbing 23 rebounds Saturday, this is the third time in the last four games that DeAndre Jordan has collected at least 22 boards in a game. He also picked up 22 games Thursday against the Los Angels Clippers and 23 rebounds last Sunday against Sacramento. . .Luka Doncic, who rarely dunks the ball, had three dunks on Saturday after entering that game with just four dunks during the entire season. . .Wesley Matthews led the Mavs against the Warriors with 25. He was 7-of-11 from 3-point range.