The Golden State Warriors got a taste on Wednesday night of what life is like without Stephen Curry.
J.J. Barea scored 23 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 18 and the Dallas Mavericks easily dispatched a shorthanded Warriors squad 114-91 at the American Airlines Center. It’s only the second loss of the season for the defending NBA champions.
“You move on,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said. “We’ll go back to the tape as a coaching staff and get some teaching points. We have another game tomorrow night in Houston. So we have to put this one behind us. You can’t dwell too long in the NBA.”
Curry missed the game with a bruised left lower leg and his status is day-to-day. The Warriors also played without Festus Ezeli (toe), Leandro Barbosa (shoulder) and Harrison Barnes (ankle).
With four of their top guys out, the Warriors were no match for the surging Mavericks. Dallas has won four straight to improve to 19-13 on the season.
“We just wanted to make it hard on their best players,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “We wanted to just keep coming at them with our depth. From start to finish, the guys did a really good job. We didn’t play a perfect game, but we did the kind of things you need to do in these kind of situations to take advantage of it.”
“Dallas is a very good team,” Walton said. “They keep the ball moving. They just wait for you to make mistakes and we made a bunch of them tonight.”
Barea was 9-of-12 from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Since being placed in the starting lineup four games ago for an injured Deron Williams, Barea is averaging 22.3 points on 63 percent shooting, including an astounding 69.2 percent (18-of-26) from beyond the arc.
The Mavericks shot 51.2 percent from the field and 51.9 percent from 3-point range. Both are season-highs by a Warriors’ opponent. Nowitzki had eight rebounds and two assists. Zaza Pachulia added 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Ian Clark led Golden State with a career-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Marreese Speights and Andre Iguodala had 12 points apiece. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson scored 11 and 10 points, respectively. The duo combined to shoot 8-of-30 from the field. The Warriors shot 40.7 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc.
“We didn’t play with the same flow usually as we do on offense,” Thompson said. “A lot of that is on me. I didn’t move the ball like I should of. Rushed some shots.”
“Our biggest concern and our biggest improvement can be on defense tomorrow night,” Walton said. “We gave up 60 points in the first half. We have very capable defenders that are playing still. So we got to make a bigger emphasis that, especially on the road in this league, you got to defend.”
The Mavericks went ahead for good midway through the first quarter and never looked back. The lead grew to 19 late in the first half and ballooned to 30 in the third quarter.
“We didn’t defend well enough tonight and we missed a lot of shots,” Green said.
Although it will be difficult for the Warriors if Curry and Ezeli can’t go again on Thursday night against James Harden, Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets, Green can’t wait to get back on the court to erase this rare feeling of losing.
“It’s good because you get a chance to get right back on the floor and this sorry taste out of your mouth,” Green said. “Back-to-backs are tough, but it’s a big deal for us to get right back on the floor.”
Golden State’s 29-2 start is the best in NBA history through the first 31 games. The Warriors lead the San Antonio Spurs by 2.5 games in the Western Conference and the Los Angeles Clippers by 10 games in the Pacific Division.
2015-16 Golden State Warriors 29-2
1995-96 Chicago Bulls 28-3