The Golden State Warriors start to Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals could not have been worse. The Dallas Mavericks jumped out to an early 10-2 lead, and they were just getting started.
Luka Dončić, held in check so impressively in Game 1, looked like a college star coming home to scrimmage his high school team during the summer. He got everywhere he wanted on the court, and made it look easy, dropping 18 points in the quarter.
Meanwhile the Warriors were as sloppy as could be. They turned the ball over six times, with Draymond Green accounting for two of them. Steph Curry picked up a pair of fouls.
Even with a run towards the end of the quarter, the Warriors still trailed by seven points entering the second.
And then it only got worse. They trailed by 13 almost immediately. At the seven-minute mark they trailed by 19. When Curry returned he immediately committed his third foul on a take foul.
Perhaps worst of all, it became one of the ugliest quarters of basketball you will ever see. The whistle was blown every few seconds. Green picked up a technical foul and was lucky to not get a second. Damion Lee and Davis Bertāns played an accidental game of Twister, which led to a review and silly double techs. Dorian Finney-Smith got a tech. There was a replay to check for a flagrant foul. The refs lost control of the game.
It was borderline unwatchable.
Curry put on a show to end the quarter, but the Warriors still trailed by 14 at the half, and Dallas had shot 15-for-27 from beyond the arc.
But the third quarter Warriors are a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful thing, and they rarely disappoint.
They chipped away, but at the halfway mark of the third, Green picked up his fifth foul with the Warriors trailing by 11. It seemed like a huge hit.
But Kevon Looney didn’t let it be. Looney had the game of his life from him, with a career-high 21 points to go with 12 rebounds and his usual spectacular defense. With Looney serving as an anchor on both ends of the court, the Warriors started to find the switch, with Curry and Jordan Poole dropping in bucket after bucket.
When the third quarter buzzer rang, the deficit was down to a single point.
It only took one fourth quarter possession for the Warriors to take their first lead of the night, and once they had it they ran with it. Even with Curry, Green, and Klay Thompson on the bench together, the lead grew, thanks to some clutch buckets from Poole and Andrew Wiggins, and the continued excellence of Looney.
Eventually the stars returned, and while Green fouled out, Curry hit the ruthless daggers that deflated the entire Mavericks bench.
The 19-point deficit became a long distant memory, and the Warriors won 126-117 to take a 2-0 series lead.
10 down, six to go.
Curry finished with 32 points on 11-for-21 shooting, and Poole had 23 on 7-for-10. Dallas had no answer for those two — or for Looney — and that was enough to overcome a 42-point night from Dončić and a 31-point night from Jalen Brunson.
And afterwards the hugs and game ball had to go to Looney, for an unforgettable game from the perpetually underrated center.
But things aren’t over yet. The Mavericks trailed the Phoenix Suns 2-0 in the semifinals, and came back to win that series. There’s lots of work to be done.
Game 3 will take place on Sunday night, as the Dubs look to get a step closer to their sixth NBA Finals appearance in eight years.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism