ORACLE ARENA – The Warriors are finding ways to win the close games, despite missing Stephen Curry for the last two games.
The presence of Andrew Bogut made the difference Thursday night, as the 7-foot Australian made a key block on former Warrior Brandan Wright to help lift Golden State past the Dallas Mavericks 100-97 in front of a packed house at Oracle Arena.
Coach Mark Jackson said this was a big win for the Warriors who continue their remarkable season. They’ve won three straight and improved to 29-17.
“At the end of the day, that’s a game we lose last year. We made the plays we had to make. We got stops. Obviously we’ve got to close out ballgames much better but defensively we made the plays. Bogut with some big time blocked shots, D-Lee (David Lee) and the rest of the guys gang-rebounding. We made multiple effort plays and we will get better but that’s a game we would lose last year.”
Klay Thompson led the Dubs in scoring for the second game in a row. He had 27 points including 3-of-7 from distance.
Thompson echoed his coach, even using his favorite catch-phrase:
Warriors guard Klay Thompson
“All you can be is happy that you won. We pulled it out and got stops when we needed to. We missed some key shots and free throws but at the end of the day the only stat that matters is we got the win so, you can’t feel fortunate but you know what, it feels better knowing you got the win.”
David Lee nearly had a triple-double. He had 15 points, pulled down 20 rebounds, and had nine assists.
Like the W’s, the Mavs had to play without their superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, who was out with a strained right adductor. Without him or fellow big man Chris Kaman — who is day-to-day with a concussion — Dallas relied on veteran Vince Carter.
Years removed from ‘Vinsanity’ and no longer the hi-flying dunker he once was, Carter can still shoot the rock. He was just 6-of-18 from the floor, but 4-of-11 from 3-point range. Carter and OJ Mayo combined for seven of the Mavericks’ eight 3’s. Mayo finished with a team-high 25 points and Carter added 22 off the bench.
One of the highlights was at 9:01 of the fourth quarter when ‘old man’ Richard Jefferson showed he still has some hops. The 11-year vet drove along the baseline then skied for a reverse windmill dunk that lit up the crowd. On the celebration, Lee body-bumped Jefferson with such exuberance he nearly ended up on the injured list.
Most NBA games aren’t decided until the final five minutes and this was no exception. After a 12-0 Warriors run to start the fourth quarter, the Mavs answered with a 13-0 run to tie the game at 92-92 with 4:15 left. Forget that the Warriors had a 13-point advantage after the Jefferson dunk, the key stat was that Dallas never led, but had a chance to win in the closing seconds.
With just over 20 seconds remaining, Dallas had the ball trailing 98-97. The ball got into the post for Wright, who tried a layup only to have it sent away by Bogut. He spoke about the key play after the game:
Warriors Center Andrew Bogut
“OJ Mayo was the guy they wanted the ball to go to, he or Vince. I saw OJ turn the corner and get to the elbow. I just left my man and said I was going to let Brandan Wright beat me or let someone else beat us. I don’t want OJ Mayo taking a shot or Vince Carter. He threw it to Shawn Marion in the corner. D-Lee (David Lee) rotated out. I just hustled my ass back and ran into a block by accident. So if Brandan would’ve made that shot I would have shaken his hand and said nice shot because that’s what we wanted. We didn’t want OJ or Vince to get up a (good) look.”
Jarrett Jack got the rebound and started a fast break. Carter had no choice but to foul Jack.
Although Jack had a rough shooting night (3-of-13) he was a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe and made both free throws.
Up by three points with two seconds left, the Mavericks had one last chance to send the game to overtime. Bogut guarded the inbounds play and Carter tried for one more shot from downtown but it was an awkward attempt and didn’t even draw iron.
In the Dallas locker room after the game, Coach Rick Carlisle was incensed by the officiating, especially on the blocked shot attempt by Bogut on Wright.
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle
“The game came down to the call that wasn’t made….Brandan Wright got hit in the arm. It’s obvious and it’s two nights in a row. It’s very tough to take with as hard as our guys are fighting to not be on the free throw line with a chance to go ahead with six seconds left in the game.”
Mavericks forward Shawn Marion was even more blunt:
Mavericks forward Shawn Marion (explicit)
The Mavs have been a perennial contender but not this season, falling to 19-27. 14 of their losses have been by margins fewer than ten points.
Lee recorded 20 rebounds for the eighth time in his career and is one of 14 players with 20-plus rebounds in a game this season. Lee also became the sixth youngest player with 8,000 points and 5,000 rebounds. … Bogut played in his first home game since Nov. 7 vs. Cleveland and had eight points, five rebounds, and three blocks. … Thompson has started all 46 games and has a career high 57 points in the last two games over a two-game stretch . … Harrison Barnes returned from a one-game absence with a sore left knee and scored 12 points, had four rebounds, and five assists.