DALLAS • Despite the headline-making squabble between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant that led to Green's one-game suspension from the team last week, the short-handed Golden State Warriors could certainly have done with the forward's defensive play on Saturday.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted earlier in the week that the National Basketball Association (NBA) champions were "banged up physically and spiritually" in the wake of the spat and the continued absence of Stephen Curry, the league's top scorer.
And, with Green also missing the game at the American Airlines Centre after suffering a toe sprain, the Dallas Mavericks took full advantage of the hamstrung Warriors, emerging 112-109 winners.
Nineteen-year-old Rookie of the Year front runner Luka Doncic hit a go-ahead hook shot with 70 seconds left before draining two free throws as the hosts, who shot 46.5 per cent, halted a 10-game losing streak to Golden State.
The Slovenian is leading all NBA rookies with 19.5 points per game and his total of 24 paced the Mavericks, who recorded their fourth straight win and just their second victory in 19 previous meetings with Kerr's men, while Harrison Barnes added 23.
Durant led all scorers with 32 points on 11-of-24 shooting but faltered in the fourth quarter, going one-of-seven in the final 12 minutes as the Warriors lost for the third time in four games, and also dropped consecutive games for the first time this season and 11th time under Kerr.
Klay Thompson contributed 22 points for the Warriors, who shot 44.7 per cent and were nine-of-33 on three-pointers, but he and Durant both missed opportunities to make plays down the stretch in the final minute.
Afterwards, Thompson shrugged off his miss and felt it was not costly with only 17 games into the regular season for the Warriors.
Teammate Durant was, however, more annoyed than Thompson, although his ire was directed at the incessant questioning by reporters over his bust-up with Green.
"Just trying to move forward,'' the nine-time All-Star added. "Are we going to talk about this the whole year? We just want to play ball. I know that's all I want to do.''
While Doncic, who joined Dallas from Real Madrid - where he led the Spanish club to this year's Euro League title - was feted for yet another clutch performance, the third overall pick in the NBA draft believed he was simply carrying on from where he left off.
"I've been doing this when I was in Madrid, too,'' the guard said. "I love the last-minute shot. (But) of course, it's different. It's the NBA. It's the best league in the world.''
And, unfortunately for Golden State, things might get worse before getting better, after Kerr said Green would "almost for sure'' be an absentee for their trip to face the San Antonio Spurs today.