DALLAS — Although the Dallas Mavericks showed just how well they measure up against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors during Wednesday’s 125-122 defeat at home, falling on two-time MVP Stephen Curry’s game-winning three-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining left them admittedly dumbfounded.
Staging a late-game rally to tie the game at 120-all with 39.7 seconds remaining after leading scorer Harrison Barnes capped a 10-0 run, the Mavericks (13-26) traded haymakers with the Warriors for the better part of four quarters. The Mavs then failed to close the game strong on the defensive end of the floor, leading to Curry’s pull-up three-pointer from the top of the key. But despite pushing the reigning titleholders for nearly the entire game, the Mavericks weren’t willing to settle for a moral victory as they turn their attention to Friday’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls.
“This is who we were supposed to be all along. You know, we don’t really have a moral victory here that we took the champs to a one-possession game. We felt in our hearts that we were supposed to win that one,” veteran swingman Wesley Matthews said after scoring 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 7 of 10 from three-point range to lead the Mavericks in a losing effort. “Obviously, they’re a great team and they’re the champs for a reason, but we’re not happy right now. You know, we’ve got another tough team coming in. Chicago is playing well, so we’ve got to learn from this one and be ready to go again.”
Led by Matthews’ stellar shooting night, the Mavericks stayed in the game while being outshot as a team, 52.7 percent to 47.8 percent. Golden State also added a 46-40 rebounding edge while converting Dallas’ 13 turnovers into 20 points, overshadowing the Mavericks’ 19-of-43 shooting from behind the three-point arc. However, after a miscommunication led to Curry capping his 32-point night with a wide-open three-pointer, the Mavs weren’t satisfied with their defensive effort down the stretch. That said, the Mavericks did applaud the fight they showed after withstanding a 12-point deficit.
“It’s tough,” 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki admitted. “We fought back incredibly hard. We really fought back from an uphill battle all night long. They hit us with cuts and backdoor splits, and they just had too many layups all night long. But we kind of stuck around, we kept fighting, and we made some good plays the last two minutes to kind of get back in it. And it’s obviously a tough way to lose.”
“We didn’t win the game, but I think everybody on our team came out and gave it everything they had, so you can’t ask for more than that,” rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. added. “It was just some miscommunication up top. That’s it, and it’s something we can fix. It was a bad time for it to happen, and I think that was the best look that [Curry] got all night. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a learning situation.”
After seeing their four-game win streak fall by the wayside, the Mavericks hope to learn from the late-game miscues in time for Friday’s showdown against the Bulls (13-25). Meanwhile, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle hopes the team can match the resiliency it showed during Wednesday’s loss after continuously putting up a valiant fight. Still, according to Carlisle, the Mavs will have to be better down the stretch of securing timely loose balls and collecting late-game stops in order to get back on track.
“We made a great comeback. When you’re 10 or 12 down with three minutes to go, you’ve got to pitch a shutout pretty much. We did some great things defensively, we got some steals, hit some threes, and Barnes made a great play to tie it back up after they scored on the (Klay) Thompson play. And then they ran it back at us. We had a foul to give, but we were unable to give it, and Curry got the shot. So, there you go.
“But I’m really pleased about the way we played, with how hard we played and we kept coming and kept coming,” the coach added. “You know, there were some things that were very frustrating with some missed free throws and some missed rebounds that were seemingly in our grasp, and we had a finger on it or something like that, and that’s why the possession game is so important in this league.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor and continue their four-game homestand on Friday night at American Airlines Center against the Chicago Bulls. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out