The Warriors welcomed the Dallas Mavericks to the Oracle Arena in their 13th home game of the 2017-18 season. The NBA champions have been notoriously slow starters at The Oracle this term. The trend continued on Thursday night. Golden State trailed 28-24 at the end of the first quarter. Dallas have the second-worst record in the western conference. However, the Mavericks raced into an early lead with a sprightly opening 12 minutes. The Warriors fought back to take the lead for the first time but sloppiness on the home team’s part allowed the visitors to secure a four-point advantage at the end of the opening 12 minutes. The Warriors have not led at the end of the first quarter at home since 11 November. Next up is Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night when the Warriors will want to put that right.
Durant impressed with 28 points in the Warriors’ 111-104 win over the Portland Blazers on Monday night. The NBA Finals MVP carried Kerr’s offence for most of Thursday night. The number 35 scored 17 of their 48 first-half points, made six rebounds and provided one assist. With the Warriors struggling to find their verve in the opening five minutes of the third quarter, Durant lit up the Oracle Arena with a three to give Kerr’s side a three-point cushion.
The Warriors had won their last seven games against the Mavericks, while Golden State had beaten the Texan franchise in their last nine meetings at The Oracle. But Dallas proved stubborn opponents for the reigning NBA champions, who were unable to build up a substantial cushion. It wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter that the Warriors were able to finally end Dallas’ resistance. Without Durant’s contribution of 36 points including a vital three at the end of the third quarter, it could have been an even more uncomfortable Thursday night for Kerr and the Warriors.
With Steph Curry out due to a twisted ankle, the Warriors were missing one half of their Splash Brother. Thompson and Kevin Durant have shouldered the additional responsibility in the absence of Golden State’s No30. According to his head coach Steve Kerr, Curry’s absence hasn’t affected Thompson’s demanour one bit despite the media’s desire to create some narrative surrounding the placid No11.
“Klay is a totally different person. He has changed everything. His demeanor and he’s constantly barking out orders. He’s gotten so much more emotional with Steph out. You can tell he feels all this pressure,” Kerr joked, before adding: “Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Klay has never changed with anything that has ever happened in the three and a half years that I’ve known him.”
Thompson sunk a brace of field goals to find his shooting range in the first quarter before sinking a three with a splash. The shooting guard had threatened to burst into life but a tough second and third quarter saw Kerr’s men rely on Omri Cassipi to complement Durant’s efforts. The Israeli hit double figures for the seventh time this season and finished with a season-best 17.
But the “low maintenance” Warriors No11 wrapped up Thursday night’s win with two three pointers in 60 seconds to end the NBA game as he had started it: with a splash (and 25 points).
Swapping the Premier League for the NBA, there were only a few European players that sprung to mind given my limited knowledge of the spot. The Warriors’ Georgian Zaza Pachulia was perhaps the only European player that I had watched with any regularity in their 2017 NBA championship-winning season. But Dirk Nowitzki is in a class of his own. The Dallas Mavericks’ No41 has been a force of nature in the NBA since his move from Germany in 1998. The 2011 NBA champion and Finals MVP is in his 20th season. The 39-year-old’s movement may have been cumbersome but he still contributed 18 points at The Oracle on Thursday night. Nowitzki is in the twilight of his career but it was still a treat to see one of the NBA’s greatest power forward of all time. There is still hope for a 21st season, too.
Asked about Nowitzki continuing on for another season, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said:
“This is not a new story. This is kind of what he has been saying all along. We’re about a third of the way through, and he is feeling good, which is great. I’m hoping like crazy that he plays another year because having him here is one of the really special experiences in coaching.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge