The California teams in Thursday’s NBA on TNT doubleheader had some pretty big nights. Here are my thoughts on what transpired.
Hello and welcome to another edition of Thursday Night Thoughts (TNT) on Friday! In this space I will give my takes on both games of the NBA’s premiere weekly broadcast. If you have any of your own thoughts on last night’s slate, feel free to add them in the comments section!
Golden State Warriors 147, Dallas Mavericks 116
The first game of the doubleheader started off as an uptempo shootout, but then it took an unexpected turn and became a rout.
Golden State entered the game with just nine available players, with no one taller than 6’7″. Meanwhile, the Mavericks were at home, at full strength, and hoping to get their second straight win after defeating the Atlanta Hawks the night before. That victory broke a six-game losing streak, so the Mavs were really hoping for some good fortune.
Things started off promising, as both teams scorched the nets through the opening two-and-a-half quarters. It was 89-89 with 6:47 left in the third. Then the Warriors flipped the switch and unleashed a 58-27 run to close out the game.
A couple of things happened here. One, the Warriors absolutely housed the Mavericks in transition, convincingly winning the fastbreak points battle 24-4. Two, the Mavs just couldn’t keep up with the Warriors’ perimeter shooting. At that 6:47 in the third mark, Dallas was 18-of-34 (52.9 percent) from 3-point range, while Golden State was 12-of-28 (42.9 percent).
Alas, the Mavericks are currently the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA. They had to regress to the mean eventually, and the fall back to earth was precipitous. Dallas finished the game shooting 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) from beyond, while Golden State scorched the nets at a 10-of-15 (66.7 percent) clip.
This was a great win for Golden State. They were short-staffed on the road, but still found a way to wreck the competition on their own court. Kelly Oubre scored a career-high 40 points, including sinking seven of the team’s 22 3-pointers. Draymond Green, the starting center, had 11 points and dished out 15 assists. He’s only the third starting center in league history to ever drop at least that many dimes (Nikola Jokic and Wilt Chamberlain the others).
Their performances make the other strong outputs look pedestrian. Stephen Curry had 28 points and six assists. Andrew Wiggins had 18 points. Two-way signee Juan Toscano-Anderson was the starting power forward and continues to impress. He scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and handed out five assists. Damion Lee led the bench with 17 points.
Dallas, on the other hand, suffer a pretty embarrassing loss. The Mavs had their full rotation — the only inactive players were their three prospects that are in Orlando for the G League Bubble — and three seven-footers on their roster. Yet they still couldn’t figure out the undersized Warriors.
Luka Doncic paced the Mavs with 27 points, Kristaps Porzingis had 25, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 19, and Jalen Brunson had 18. The rest of the team accounted for just 27 points. Neither team played lockdown defense in this game, but the Mavs really let go of the rope in the final quarter-and-a-half, allowing tons of open 3’s and layups. Now at 3-10 over their last 13 games, it’s clear that something is awry in North Texas.
Luckily for them, they have a chance at redemption. These two teams will face off again in the ABC Saturday Primetime game. Dallas will once again enter that game with the homecourt and roster advantage. If they aren’t able to at least stay competitive in Game 2, the Mavericks may need to consider making some changes in order to right the ship.
Los Angeles Lakers 114, Denver Nuggets 93
Game 2 of the doubleheader was a rematch of the 2020 Western Conference Finals. The Lakers would prevail in this game, much like they did in that series.
Denver held serve in the first half, leading 58-46 at the break. The Nuggets accomplished this by carving out an advantage on the offensive glass (10 O-boards, or 37 percent of their misses) and at the line (11 made free throws to LA’s six). However, the Lakers would come out of the locker room and instantly turn the tables. Los Angeles outscored Denver 68-35 in the second half. They did so thanks to a 40-16 advantage in the paint and a 15-2 advantage in transition.
LeBron James led LA with a 27-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double. Dennis Schroder followed up with 21 points and four assists. Talen Horton-Tucker led the bench with 17 points. Jamal Murray paced Denver with 20 points, while Monte Morris had 16 points off the bench.
This was a “something has to give” game between to of the top teams in the Western Conference. Denver entered the game as the fourth-best offense in the Association, while Los Angeles came in with the top defense. They say defense wins championships, and it helped the defending champs earn the victory on Thursday night.