Warriors visit Mavericks on rare losing streak
Golden State was at its worst last time out.
Dallas was at its best.
How that translates when the teams meet in Dallas on Saturday could shed more light on where the teams go from here.
Golden State (12-4) was blown out 107-86 in Houston on Thursday, when Draymond Green rejoined the Warriors after his team-imposed one-game suspension for a verbal confrontation with Kevin Durant during an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
Dallas, meanwhile, showed its defensive prowess in a 118-68 victory over nemesis Utah on Wednesday, when the Mavs set a team record by limiting the Jazz to 22 pints in the second half.
The Warriors scored 92 points in the first half of a blowout victory in Chicago on Oct. 29, and they also had an 80-point first half against Washington.
But the most efficient offense in the league -- Golden State leads the league in field goal percentage and in assists per game -- was hardly itself at Houston, when it also played without Steph Curry for the fourth straight game.
"We played a very poor game," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said afterward.
"We're banged up a little bit physically and right now we're banged spiritually. There is no getting around that. We have to fill up our cup and get our spirit back and our energy back.
And we're going to.
Durant had 20 points when the Warriors lost for the second time in three games, but Klay Thompson (10 points) was the only other starter to score in double figures as the reserves began subbing in midway through the fourth quarter.
Green had five points and five rebounds in 24 minutes, missing all three of his field goals attempts, two from three-point range.
"I think the energy was definitely not there," Green said. "You know, it happens. We have to get better, continue to build. We'll be fine."
The Warriors shot a season-low 42.1 percent from the field, a season low for the second straight game, and made just 4-of-18 threes. The four makes also was a season low.
"The switching (defenses make it) kind of tough to get open looks at the 3-point line," said Durant, who was 6-of-15 from the field and missed both his 3-point attempts.
"Obviously every team now knows we shoot a lot of threes. With Steph out it's going to be tough for us to get those quick 3-pointers that we usually get against our actions."
Green's off night was not concerning to Kerr.
"Draymond may not have had his best night; In fact, he played very poorly," Kerr said.
"But I like his approach. He was genuine. He was competing. Nothing went his way. I like where he is heading. The rest of our team, we have to lift our spirits up and get back in the saddle."
At the same time, Dallas (6-8) is riding high.
The Mavericks are on their first three-game winning streak of the season and have won four of five. Playing the kind of defense coach Rick Carlisle preaches, they held Utah to 31.3 percent field goal shooting after keeping Chicago and Oklahoma City under 40 percent in the previous two.
"I can't remember a better defensive performance by a Mavericks team in 11 years," Carlisle said after the Utah game. "I am just really impressed with the way the guys brought it against a ridiculously difficult team to play. They are well coached, and they slice-and-dice you do death. Our starting group is developing some real defensive grit together."
The Mavs' 50-point victory was tied for the second-largest in franchise history. The Jazz scored nine points in the fourth quarter.
"We have worked very hard on defense the last two weeks," Carlisle said. "We have shown improvement, everybody was completely connected."
Reserve point guard J.J. Barea had 14 of the Mavs' 66 bench points against the Jazz, and Mavs' reserves -- including Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson -- have scored 163 points in the last three games.
"The second unit has played together more, so it makes sense that they have jelled a little quicker than the starters, who have two or three new guys," Carlisle said. "Everybody has to keep working towards the same common goal of us being the best team we can be."
Wesley Matthews, who tweaked his tender hamstring in his return Wednesday, is not expected to play.