Steph Curry’s 57 points not enough, more takeaways from Warriors’ loss to Mavericks
Hands on his hips, Stephen Curry posed, rocked his shoulders back-and-forth and let out a roar. The dramatic variation of his trademark shimmy punctuated a deep shot from the Mavericks’ logo.
This was Curry’s ninth of 11 made 3-pointers during a 57-point eruption — an all-time performance even for one of the most decorated players in league history. But ultimately, it was one that was squandered as the Warriors fell to the Mavericks, 134-132, Saturday night in Dallas.
The result didn’t prevent coaches and teammates from appreciating the show. Head coach Steve Kerr called it “Sublime.”
“It was ridiculous, the shots he was hitting, the degree of difficulty, the ease with which he made them,” he said. “He’s never played better.”
“Best player in basketball right now,” added Kent Bazemore. “It’s unreal.”
Despite the disappointing result, the team’s mood wasn’t dampened. During postgame interviews, coaches and players glowed about Curry’s performance, wishing only that they could have won so that Curry could celebrate.
“I don’t think we lost the game, I think Dallas won the game,” Kerr said. “Our guys fought and competed the entire way.”
A slow start and early 18-2 hole may have doomed the Warriors, who still shot 53.5% overall and canned 20 3-pointers. Opposite Curry, Mavericks star Luka Doncic had his own high-scoring night, finishing with 42 points on 12-for-23 shooting and 11 assists.
But the Warriors still had a chance late in the game. Curry’s 3-pointer followed by a layup and free throw cut the deficit to one with 28.6 seconds remaining.
Needing a stop on the next possession, the Warriors swarmed Doncic, who found forward Maxi Kleber in the corner. Kelber drained the 3-pointer to ice the game with 6.3 seconds to go.
“Mixed feelings,” Curry said of his eighth career game scoring at least 50 points and 16th with 10 or more 3-pointers.
Golden State (12-11) ends up splitting the two-game series with the Mavericks (10-14) before heading to San Antonio for a pair of games against the Spurs starting Monday.
As Bazemore said, no one is playing as well as Curry right now. Over the last five games, Curry leads the NBA with 35.6 points per game and is shooting 57.% overall and 54.1% from 3-point range. His 677 points and 111 3-pointers this season are tops in the league, and he’s doing it while fighting through double- and triple-teams with a group squarely in the early stages of developing chemistry.
Those outside the Warriors are taking notice, too. Curry led all guards in the All-Star voting first returns this week, and trailed only fellow MVP candidates LeBron James and Kevin Durant in total votes. At 32 years old and coming off a season derailed by a broken hand, Curry’s scoring figures are the best they’ve been since his last MVP season in 2015-16.
“We’re talking about a two-time MVP, three-time champion,” Kerr said. “I’ve never seen him like this.”
STEPH CURRY SHIMMY pic.twitter.com/MgVnvxyxg2
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) February 7, 2021
Below, more takeaways from the game.
Draymond Green continues to thrive: Green stuffed the box-score Saturday: two points, 15 assists, six rebounds, six steals and four blocks in 37 minutes. That’s tied for a season-high in minutes, which he first posted in Tuesday’s loss to the Celtics. This is encouraging for the Warriors. After missing training camp because of a positive coronavirus test and the first four games of the season with a foot issue, Green is clearly in the best condition of his season. He’s playing the full first and third quarters now, and has tallied 15 assists in back-to-back games. And he’s doing it while playing center, as both James Wiseman (sprained left wrist) and Kevon Looney (sprained left ankle) are sidelined for at least the rest of this trip.
No answer for Luka Doncic: With 42 points and 11 assists, Doncic attributed for half of his team’s total points. He got downhill, caught Golden State’s defenders leaning and baited them into foul calls as he went 11-for-14 from the line. This should be expected from a star player, but some of those calls were questionable. Specifically in the first quarter, when Doncic threw his body into Andrew Wiggins on a 3-point attempt to draw the foul. Wiggins left his feet, but kept his hands down and did not invade Doncic’s initial space.
“I think that was a pretty bogus call,” Wiggins said.
“It’s just not a basketball play,” Bazemore added.
this is annoying pic.twitter.com/wN63PpLsJi
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) February 7, 2021
But this wasn’t the only reason the Warriors allowed the Mavericks to march to the line. As Kerr said before the game, the team’s potential will be “unlocked” when they stop reaching and start rebounding more. The Warriors’ goal is to be a top-10 defense and they entered the game ranked 10th in defensive rating. But after giving up 134 points, 30 free throws and getting out-rebounded 47-to-40, they head to San Antonio ranked 12th.