Lack of Curry leaves flat Warriors with no stomach for fight

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 31, 2015 1:23 AM

(The Sports Xchange) - The Dallas Mavericks took full advantage of Stephen Curry's absence with a lower left leg injury by bolting to an early 17-point lead on the way to a 114-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Center on Wednesday.

An MRI taken on Curry's leg earlier in the day revealed no structural damage but Golden State opted to be cautious and hold him out. The reigning league MVP will be a game-time decision on Thursday when the Warriors play at the Houston Rockets.

Dallas, winner of four in a row to improve to 19-13, led 60-42 at the half behind hot three-point shooting and plenty of looks at the basket.

Golden State (29-2) had not been in that position all season, facing its largest halftime deficit, and were unable to rally and prevent a second defeat of the campaign.

The Warriors trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 14 points on Nov. 19 but roared back to win. In that game, Golden State had Curry, who finished with a game-high 40 points.

In this one, Curry was a helpless bystander and interim coach Luke Walton basically was, too. He also had few options to turn to with forward Harrison Barnes, reserve guard Leandro Barbosa and reserve center Festus Ezeli all sidelined by injury.

Golden State needed guard Klay Thompson to step up and he had one of his worst nights of the season, going 4-of-15 from the floor for 10 points, his lowest output since Nov. 11.

The Warriors did not have three players score in double figures until the final 90 seconds of the third quarter.

Not only did the Golden State offense stall without Curry running the show -- with 40.7 percent shooting from the floor -- defensively it played uncharacteristically passive, giving Dallas easy looks at the rim.

Thirty-two of the Mavs' 60 first-half points came in the paint, where they held a 22-point advantage at that point.

That did not change much in the third quarter as Dallas quickly opened a 70-46 lead that ballooned to 83-53 with less than five minutes left in the frame.

Guard J.J. Barea, making his fourth consecutive start in place of injured Deron Williams, scored a game-high 23 points that included a Curry-like 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and six assists.

Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and eight rebounds, center ZaZa Pachulia posted his 17th double-double of the season with 14 points and 15 rebounds, and guards Wesley Matthews and Devin Harris each had 13 points and combined to go 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.

The Warriors finished with five players in double figures.

Reserve guard Ian Clark finished with 21 points after some garbage-time baskets. Forward Marreese Speights and swingman Andre Iguodala each had 12 points off the bench. Forward Draymond Green was limited to 11 points and nine rebounds.

(Editing by John O'Brien)