OAKLAND — The Warriors’ identity usually rests on star power, slick passes and 3-point shots. As the Warriors showed in their 121-103 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday at Oracle Arena, though, sometimes it takes a personality shift to achieve the desired goal.
“I know a lot of people expect us to be great every night,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. “That’s a great standard to set. But some nights we’re going to be in a slugfest. Some nights we’re going to struggle to score. And some nights we’re going to turn the ball over.”
And as the Warriors showed in their latest win, they might have some nights where they experience all of the above.
The Warriors (42-13) snapped a two-game losing streak by resorting to a few different tactics. Warriors coach Steve Kerr noted that “our talent took over” as Durant (24 points), Stephen Curry (20), Klay Thompson (18) and Draymond Green (10) all took over while the Warriors posted 37 assists. But the Warriors also relied on defense that held Dallas (17-38) to 43 percent shooting overall, as well as 18 fourth-quarter points.
After the Warriors’ bench struggled all season with consistent scoring and efficiency, reserve center David West (10 points, seven rebounds) helped the reserves outscore the Mavericks’ bench, 39-24. And the Warriors achieved all of this after more turnovers (16) and another slow start, which included the Mavericks securing a 33-23 first-quarter lead after closing out the period with a 14-2 run.
“It took us a while to get going,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But I like the way we dug our way out.”
Granted, it helped that the Warriors have their star talent. They also faced a Mavericks team that has the Western Conference’s worst record and played without their leading scorer Harrison Barnes, the former Warriors forward who has stayed sidelined with a sprained left ankle.
But then again, the Warriors had lost three of their past four games, including two games against sub-.500 teams (Utah, Sacramento) partly because of the team’s refusal to perform manual labor.
“Once we start struggling, we can’t get in our own way. We just have to keep playing,” Durant said. “I think tonight we did a good job in playing off our instincts and not worrying about if we make a mistake.”
No one epitomized that more than Green, who shot 4-of-17 from the field and 1-of-3 from 3-point range. Normally, Kerr would sneer at Green taking more attempts than Thompson (15), Durant (13) and Curry (12). Normally, Kerr does not like when Green takes 3-point shots.
This time, the circumstances were different. Green missed open layups. He also missed open 3-pointers. And yet, all of those shots became available because of how aggressively Green played.
“I liked the way Draymond fought,” Kerr said. “It was one of those games where nothing was going his way. But he was competing.”
And as a result, Green still grabbed 10 rebounds, posted six assists and finished with a plus-minus rating of 11, which calculates the positive impact a player makes when he is on the court.
“Just play. You can’t really control the shots falling or not. But you can control how you play,” Green said. “When you’re kind of in a rut, you just need to play hard.”