NBA: Warriors rally to defeat Mavericks, take 2-0 series lead
Rival coaches Steve Kerr and Jason Kidd agreed Friday night: Game 2 of the Western Conference finals was just like Game 1.
It just started 24 minutes later.
Kevon Looney shocked the Dallas Mavericks with a career-high 21 points and the Golden State Warriors erased a 19-point deficit en route to a 126-117 victory Friday night in San Francisco for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Warriors star Stephen Curry put up a team-high 32 points.
Luka Doncic rebounded from a playoffs-season-low 20 points with a game-high 42 and the Mavericks connected on 21 3-pointers, but that wasn’t enough to prevent them from heading home without a win in the best-of-seven series.
The scene shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday and Tuesday.
Coming off a 112-87 shellacking in Game 1, the Mavericks buried 15 3-pointers in the first half and led by as many as 19 in 24 minutes that featured four technical fouls, including one on Golden State’s emotional leader, Draymond Green.
With Dallas up 72-58 at the break, Kerr’s instructions to the Warriors were simple.
“I told them if we develop some poise in the second half, the game would come to us,” Kerr said. “Dallas came out and punched us. We were scattered. We just needed to get poised. We felt confident they wouldn’t make 15 threes in the second half. And if they do, you pat them on the back and say, ‘Nice job.’ If somebody makes 30 threes in a game, they deserve to win.”
But as they did in the first quarter of a one-sided loss in Game 1 two nights earlier, the Mavericks lost their way from beyond the arc in the second half. And while they were going 2-for-13 on long-range attempts in the third period, the Warriors rallied.
The advantage was still 79-64 with 7:06 remaining in the third before the Warriors exploded. The game-turning spurt began with a 19-6 run at the end of the period to close the gap to two. Looney contributed five points to the spurt while Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins each had four.
Mavericks coach Kidd admitted he sensed the game was slipping away and hoped his team learned a lesson.
“The guys came out and executed and put us in a position to win on the road,” he said of the first half. “But the third quarter … we’ve got to do better. We have to understand when three or four in a row miss, you’ve got to get the ball to the rim, into the paint, you’ve got to get to the free-throw line. But when you go 2-for-13 and you rely on the three, you can die by the three.”
Golden State took the lead for good when Otto Porter Jr. opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, and the hosts didn’t stop there. The Warriors built a 99-92 advantage by completing a 16-7 run in which Porter (seven), Poole (five) and Looney (four) did all the scoring.
The Mavericks got no closer than five after that.
Looney, whose previous career high of 19 came in the 2019 playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers, hit 10 of his 14 shots and also found time for a game-high 12 rebounds. The double-double was just the second of his postseason career.
The playoff-tested big man shrugged off the individual glory and praised the team’s defense.
“In the first half, they got to wherever they wanted and got a lot of wide-open threes,” he said. “In the second half, we were able to get them off the 3-point line and make things tougher for them. When we’re able to get stops on a great player like Luka, it’s a big boost to us and the crowd.”
Looney and Curry got plenty of help. Poole finished with 23 points, Wiggins 16, Klay Thompson 15 and Porter 11 for the Warriors, who shot 56.1 percent for the second consecutive game.
Doncic shot 12-for-23 overall and 5-for-10 on 3-point tries for the Mavericks, who improved from 36 percent shooting in Game 1 to 47.4 percent in the rematch.
Dallas’ Reggie Bullock hit six 3-pointers to account for almost all his 21 points. Jalen Brunson made five treys on a 31-point night, helping the Mavericks rebound from an 11-for-48 effort from beyond the arc in the opener to hit 21 of 45.
Doncic also accumulated a game-high eight assists, while Dorian Finney-Smith collected a team-high eight rebounds to complement 10 points.
–Field Level Media