No Curry, no fire in 2nd loss

Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki taking a shot as Golden State's Klay Thompson blocks him. The NBA champions sorely missed MVP Stephen Curry as they succumbed 91-114 for just their second defeat of the regular season.
Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki taking a shot as Golden State's Klay Thompson blocks him. The NBA champions sorely missed MVP Stephen Curry as they succumbed 91-114 for just their second defeat of the regular season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mavs cash in on Warriors MVP's leg injury, dominating the paint against a flat defence

DALLAS • The Golden State Warriors' first game without National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Stephen Curry did not go well.

The Dallas Mavericks took full advantage of Curry sitting out with a lower left leg injury, dealing the Warriors just their second defeat of the season.

They bolted to an early 17-point lead and led by as many as 30 in the 114-91 victory on Wednesday at American Airlines Centre.

Golden State (29-2) also faced their largest half-time deficit - 42-60.

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 - the league's leading scorer at 30.5 points per game - was a helpless bystander. And assistant coach Luke Walton, who continues to fill in for head coach Steve Kerr, basically was, too.

He also had few options to turn to with forward Harrison Barnes, reserve guard Leandro Barbosa and reserve centre Festus Ezeli all sidelined by injury.

Golden State needed guard Klay Thompson to step up but he had one of his worst nights of the season, going 4 of 15 from the floor.

He finished with 10 points - his lowest output since Nov 11.

Reserve guard Ian Clark led the Warriors with 21 points.

Mavericks guard J.J. Barea scored a game-high 23 points that included a Curry-like five-of-seven from beyond the arc and six assists.

Not only did the Golden State offence stall without Curry running the show - with 40.7 per cent shooting from the floor and just seven made three-pointers - defensively it also 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.

"He's the MVP of the league so he's going to make the game different," said forward Draymond Green, the only Warriors starter to play every game this season, following the defeat.

"It's always different (without him)."

Kerr is also yet to take the sideline following off-season back surgeries. These are precisely the obstacles Golden State avoided during a 67-win championship campaign a season ago.

Curry could miss this morning's (Singapore time) game against the Houston Rockets (16-17) again, leaving the Warriors vulnerable against a league primed to attack the defending NBA champions.

"They're the best, which is why they're the champs," said Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, who had 18 points and eight rebounds as his team improved to 19-13.

"(But) it's still a long season and the rest of the West is going to keep plugging."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline 'No Curry, no fire in 2nd loss'. Print Edition | Subscribe