By Matthew Harrington
Warriors coach Mark Jackson received quite the birthday gift from his All-star guard Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Stephen Curry hit the game-winning shot with .1 seconds remaining in overtime to cap a Golden State 122-120 upheaval of the Dallas Mavericks (44-31). As coach Jackson blew out the 49 candles on his cake, the Dubs created a little bit of breathing room in the Western Conference playoff picture. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs entered play Tuesday with 44 wins, just one less than their foes from California. The Warriors (46-28) have two games in hand over Dallas.
Curry’s game-winner in the extra session, his third career buzzer-beating basket, was a culmination of a 43-minute, 23-point effort. Fellow guard Klay Thompson topped Golden State on 27 points, going 11-for-24 from the field including 4-of9 from downtown. Jermaine O’Neal, starting at center with Andrew Bogut not making the trip nursing a sore groin and David Lee in street clothes for the third-straight game, picked up 20 points and 8 rebounds. Marreese Speights’ 9 rebounds paced the Warriors.
Ex-Warrior Monta Ellis did his best to sink his former franchise, shooting 11-for-23 with 27 points. Mavs perennial All-Star Nowitzki contributed a game-high 33 points over 39 minutes of play and converted the double-double on a game-high 11 boards.
The Warriors connected on a blistering 57.1 shooting percentage, making 52 shots on 91 attempts including nearly half (15) of their 31 shots from beyond the arc. Mark Cuban’s club held the advantage in turnovers, forfeiting possession 8 times to the visitors’ 12. The Mavericks somehow managed to keep Golden State from going to the free throw line for the entirety of the second half.
The Warriors overpowered their hosts in the first, racing out to a 30-21 lead after twelve minutes of play. Dallas bombarded Golden State with 41 second-quarter points, the most the Warriors have yielded in a single frame this season, while limiting the visitors to 23 points for a 62-53 halftime edge.
It took the Warriors nearly ten minutes of play in the third to catch up to Dallas when Speights rolled in a layup to make it 78-all before Vince Carter hit one of two free throws to restore the slim Mavs one-point edge. The Warriors would score seven of the last nine points for an 85-81 lead after three frames.
Dallas capped a 10-5 run to open the fourth with a Carter basket to pull ahead 91-90 nearly four minutes in to the final stanza of regulation. The Warriors briefly wrestled the lead back from their foes but found themselves trailing 106-102 with 1:43 until the final horn. Andre Iguodala and Thompson sandwiched three-pointers around an Ellis jumper to knot things up a 108 a piece with a minute left but that would be the last basket of regulation as the teams would require an five-minute overtime to decide the victor.
Dallas opened the final five minutes on a Dirk jumper before Jermaine O’Neal hit only one of two free throws to pull the Warriors within one at 110-109. O’Neal represented the first Warrior to head to the charity stripe since Thompson completed the and-1 play with 2:55 left in the second quarter. From there the two teams would go shot-for-shot over the next five baskets before a Thompson trey preceded a Curry 16-foot jumper to put the Dubs up 118-117 over halfway through OT.
The Mavs’ Jose Calderon responded with a three of his own before O’Neal took a Draymon Green feed to the rim to knot things up at 120-all. The Warriors were looking for a quick basket to force a last-possession chance, a goal achieved when Green connected with O’Neal with 28 seconds left.
On the penultimate Dallas possession of the game, Ellis tried to take the winning shot but he was rejected on the layup by O’Neal. On the next Warrior possession Curry connected on the off-balance jumper with a tenth of a second remaining. The Mavs couldn’t connect on the in-bound deflection play, and after a brief review, the Warriors win was official.
Golden State looks to give Jackson a second belated gift Wednesday evening. They continue on to a showdown in San Antonio with the Spurs at the AT&T Center where they haven’t won since Valentine’s Day of 1997, just six days before then 31-year-old point guard Jackson was dealt from the Denver Nuggets back to the Indiana Pacers. After the second leg of the Texas road trip the Warriors return to the West Coast for a showdown with in-state rivals, the Sacramento Kings, Friday night at Oracle Arena.