Mavericks look to take down Warriors
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Dallas Mavericks will seek a second straight win over the elite of the Western Conference when they visit the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
The Mavericks (8-20) stunned the San Antonio Spurs 95-89 in Kawhi Leonard’s season debut on Tuesday night.
The Texas rivals will meet in a rematch on Saturday.
In between, the Mavericks have to travel 1,500 miles without injured rookie standout Dennis Smith Jr. to face a Warriors team that has won seven in a row.
Smith, who ranks third among rookies in assists (4.0 per game) and fifth in scoring (14.4 points per game), remains out of action due to a strained left hip.
The Mavericks overcame the absence of their floor leader by committing just six turnovers and getting strong play from three guards against the Spurs. Starters Yogi Ferrell and Wesley Matthews and backup J.J. Barea combined for 48 points and 12 assists.
“We have been waiting for a game like this,” said Ferrell, who complemented 16 points and two assists with a career-high eight rebounds. “We’ve had some good games this season, but we put it all together (against the Spurs).”
A Dallas visit to Golden State means the return of Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes, who contributed averages of 10.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in the Warriors’ postseason run to a championship in 2015.
Barnes was the odd man out when the Warriors upgraded to Kevin Durant in free agency a year later.
He has since enjoyed two homecomings before appreciative crowds in Oakland, scoring 25 points both times.
Of course, even those lofty totals are less than what Durant averages for the Warriors, with whom Durant won a championship last June.
The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week has poured in 35, 36 and 28 points in the three games since guard Stephen Curry was lost to a sprained ankle last Monday.
The 28 came in a 111-104 home win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night, Golden State’s return to Oracle Arena after a historic 6-0 trip, just the 11th in NBA history.
The Warriors not only beat the Trail Blazers without Curry, but they also were missing Draymond Green (sore right shoulder) and Zaza Pachulia (sore left shoulder).
“I’m always satisfied with any win, but particularly without three starters. That’s a great sign,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the win. “A good win and we move on.”
It appears Kerr will have to trot out his new look again Thursday night, with Curry definitely out while Green and Pachulia remain doubtful.
Another key contributor, reserve Nick Young, was lost in the Portland game to a concussion. He also is unlikely to play against the Mavericks.
Green had 10 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two steals when the Warriors crushed the Mavericks 133-103 in Dallas on Oct. 23.
It was Golden State’s seventh straight win over Dallas by an average of 18.7 points.
The Thursday game is the Warriors’ second in a stretch of 10 in which they never leave the state of California. They play only once on the road — Monday against the Los Angeles Lakers — between now and a trip to Dallas on Jan. 3.
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