Mavericks look for disappearing defense against Warriors
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Dallas Mavericks will be seeking defensive improvement against a Golden State Warriors team that will be looking to get its high-powered offense back in gear when the Western Conference clubs hook up Saturday night.
The Mavericks held the Warriors below their season average in a 112-109 home win over the two-time defending champions last month.
The Dallas defense was a difference-maker in the fourth quarter, during which Golden State was held to 23 points.
The Mavericks have not been able to recapture that defensive magic of late, having allowed 120, 126 and 125 points in their last three games, all of which they’ve lost.
The latter two efforts helped produce an 0-2 start to the Mavericks’ current four-game trip. They lost Tuesday at Denver and Thursday in Los Angeles to the Clippers.
The losses came despite two more brilliant efforts by rookie Luka Doncic, who had a 23-point, 12-assist double-double against the Nuggets before exploding for a season-best 32 points against the Clippers.
Asked before Thursday’s nationally televised game if Doncic could make the All-Star team as a rookie, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban responded, “Absolutely. Why not? Who has numbers like he does? Who’s been responsible for a team turning around like he has?”
The Warriors had to be impressed with their first look at the former European star. He capped a 24-point night with a go-ahead jumper with 1:10 to go in Dallas’ narrow home win over Golden State last month.
Golden State’s home winning streak against the Mavericks is ongoing, an 11-game run that extends to March 2012.
Curry and Green have since returned, and the Warriors ran off four straight wins before getting drubbed 113-93 at home by Toronto earlier this month.
Two wins later, Golden State had just a season-low-tying 18 assists in a 108-103 loss at Utah on Wednesday.
“We’re not moving the ball,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the game against Utah. “We’re not playing the way we’ve played the last few years, where the ball is really moving and we’re taking great shots.”
Three of Golden State’s four All-Stars have contributed to the recent slump.
Green hasn’t scored in double figures since October and has made just 1 of 10 3-pointers in five games since his return from a sprained toe.
Klay Thompson has been held to 16 or fewer points in three of his last four games, a stretch during which he has shot 39 percent overall and 20 percent (5 of 25) on 3-pointers.
And Kevin Durant, who has scored 30 or more points in three of his last four games, has seen his 3-point percentage fall to 35.5 percent, his lowest in eight seasons, as the result of making just 20 of his last 52.
The Warriors averaged 122.8 points in their four-game sweep of the Mavericks last season. Durant averaged 27.5 points in those games, making 13 of 25 3-pointers and 58 percent overall.