Bench play improves, but Warriors fall 116-113 to Doncic and Mavericks

Bench play improves, but Warriors fall 116-113 to Doncic and Mavericks

Updated: 2 months, 1 day, 2 hours, 3 minutes, 53 seconds ago

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DALLAS - The non-Stephen Curry minutes have been an issue in numerous losses for the Golden State Warriors this season.

The quality of those minutes has undoubtedly improved in recent games with Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins’ insertion into the second unit. And in a 116-113 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, those non-Curry minutes were a major reason why Golden State didn’t get run out of American Airlines Center.

Golden State dropped to 11-11 this season and 2-10 away from Chase Center with the loss.

After enjoying one of their better offensive performances of the season Sunday afternoon in Minnesota, the Warriors couldn’t buy a bucket in the opening quarter. By the 5:54 mark, Golden State was shooting just 2-of-10 from the field, 0-of-5 from deep and found itself in an early 15-4 hole. Dallas’ interior defense was stout, forcing it to settle for contested jumpers that just weren’t falling. When Kevon Looney scores the first six points for the Warriors, something is clearly off.

Head coach Steve Kerr went with a lineup of Curry, Jordan Poole, Donte DiVincenzo, Jonathan Kuminga and JaMychal Green to finish up the first quarter, and that group played with greater pace offensively and started to create some turnovers on defense. But the result was ultimately a 36-24 deficit entering the second quarter. While the Warriors did limit Dallas to 40.7% shooting over the first 12 minutes, worse shooting on their part (38.1%) and six turnovers certainly didn’t help their cause.

With Poole, DiVincenzo, Wiggins, Anthony Lamb and Draymond Green on the court to start the second quarter, things turned around quickly for the Warriors. First Kuminga got going, then Lamb started knocking down shots from behind the arc.

The Warriors wound up outscoring Dallas 18-2 over the first 5:34 of the second quarter until Curry and the other starters started trickling back into the game. They outscored Dallas 30-19 in the quarter overall, trimming what was a 12-point deficit down to just one.

In a strange twist of events, at least compared to what we’ve seen from this Golden State team this season, especially early on, each starter finished negative in plus/minus in the first half, while each reserve finished positive. Dallas’ roster experienced an opposite trend.

Kuminga was the best of the bunch, as he had eight points (4-of-4), five rebounds and one block in his first 13 minutes of action. The Warriors were plus-19 with the 20-year-old on the court over that stretch.

Golden State’s bench success wasn’t just some first-half fluke. The Warriors trailed Dallas 92-87 entering the fourth quarter and the second-unit went on a 13-2 run over the first 2:14 of the quarter to take a 100-96 lead, then Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd was forced to sub Luka Doncic back into the game to stop the bleeding.

From there, the Warriors’ starters couldn’t close the deal. Trailing 115-113 with 10.1 seconds left, Curry was whistled for a travel violation which forced Golden State to foul on Dallas’ ensuing possession.

Dorian Finney-Smith split a pair of free throws and the Warriors had a chance to tie the game with 4.1 seconds left, but Klay Thompson missed a game-tying look at the buzzer to finish a 2-of-9 shooting effort.

Curry finished with a game-high 32 points, five rebounds and five assists. Kuminga recorded his first double-double of the season off the bench with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He was a team-best plus-21 in 26 minutes.


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Doncic was virtually unstoppable, posting a triple-double with 41 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists.

• In Lamb’s first start of the season, a 114-105 loss for the Warriors in New Orleans with the starters resting, he dropped in 16 points.

Before Tuesday, his last double-digit scoring effort had been in a win over San Antonio on Nov. 14.

However, Lamb stepped up as a scorer against the Mavericks, scoring 11 points (4-of-6 shooting) in 16 minutes. His consecutive 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the second quarter are what helped sparked the second-unit’s scoring run.

Kerr told the media on Monday that Lamb had earned a role in the rotation because he proved to be a reliable piece. Against Dallas, Lamb proved that point once again. However, what will be interesting to see is how Golden State manages Lamb’s availability going forward.

Tuesday night was the 14th of 50 games Lamb can play in on a two-way contract. Eventually he’s going to have to miss games. And when that happens, perhaps Moses Moody will have a chance to get back into the mix.