What we learned as Steph’s 25 not enough in Warriors’ loss to Mavs

What we learned as Steph’s 25 not enough in Warriors’ loss to Mavs

What we learned as Steph’s 25 points not enough in Warriors’ loss to Mavs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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SAN FRANCISCO — Not even a starting lineup change was enough to jolt the Warriors out of their recent offensive funk Saturday night. They didn’t play very well defensively, either, as Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić was a dominant force all game.

It all added up to a 132-122 Warriors loss, their third in a row, as they dropped two games under .500 at 15-17.

It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t all bad.

The Warriors made a strong fourth-quarter surge to pull within 119-114 on a Chris Paul 3-pointer. Paul, who reached a major milestone when he scored his 22,000th career point earlier in the night, started for just the eighth time in 29 games with Golden State, as he and rookie center Trayce Jackson-Davis replaced rookie guard Brandin Podziemski and veteran big man Kevon Looney in the lineup.

Stephen Curry shook off another slow start and found his shooting stroke in the second half when Golden State made its best run. He hit two clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep the Warriors close before the Mavs (19-14) sealed the deal.

Curry, who had been in a mini shooting slump lately, missed six of his first seven shot attempts, but he came back strong in the second half, finishing with 25 points on 9-of-25 shooting from the field while also handing out seven assists.

Gary Payton II returned to the Warriors and was greeted with a rousing ovation from the Chase Center crowd when he checked in late in the first half. The veteran guard played fewer than 10 minutes and didn’t make much of an impact, which isn’t surprising, considering he’d missed one month with a calf injury.

Here are three takeaways from Golden State’s latest loss.

Klay‘s shot again off the mark

After appearing to break out of his early season scoring slump in recent weeks, Klay Thompson’s shooting woes arose again. The Warriors guard was 1 of 9 in the first half and missed both of his shots in the second half, finishing with three points — his second-fewest of the season.

Even more telling was that Thompson was on the bench for most of the fourth quarter when the game still was somewhat in doubt.

This will continue to fuel speculation that the Warriors should trade Thompson, but don’t expect that to happen. Like he was after his earlier troubles, Thompson should be fine, with his stats back to expected levels by the end of the season.

No stopping Luka

The Warriors tried just about everything they could to contain Dončić, and not much of it worked. Thompson, Payton, Paul, Jackson-Davis, Looney, Jonathan Kuminga and Andrew Wiggins all took turns guarding the Mavs star without much success.

Dončić scored 14 points as part of Dallas’ 38-point third quarter, and finished so close to a triple-double, with 39 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

Even when the Warriors were able to slow him down, Dončić kept finding ways to make a difference. Twice, Golden State appeared to have him locked down, only to see the NBA MVP candidate find a way to make alley-oop passes for dunks.

Defense has been somewhat of an issue all season long for the Warriors, who must correct that if they want to make a run in the Western Conference.

Paul shines as starter

In addition to reaching the career scoring milestone, Paul adjusted to playing with Golden State’s starting unit just fine. He had 24 points, with six 3-pointers, and six assists in 33 minutes.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said two days earlier that Paul was an anchor on the second unit, so it will be interesting to see how much longer he remains in the starting group. But on a night when the Warriors’ offense was consistently inconsistent, the 38-year-old stepped up and shot 9 of 14 from the field. He also did fairly well when paired on Doncic, which is another encouraging sign.

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