SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Stephen Curry scored 21 points as the Golden State Warriors bottled up Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks to win their Western Conference finals series opener 112-87 yesterday.
Three days after Doncic destroyed the Phoenix Suns with a virtuoso performance, the Slovenian found the going harder against a ruthless Golden State at San Francisco’s Chase Center.
Dallas had rained in buckets against Phoenix in Arizona last Sunday, but the scoring dried up against the six-time NBA champions.
The Warriors started slowly but pulled clear decisively in the second half after leading 54-45 at half-time.
With Doncic appearing to be nursing a sore shoulder, the Warriors outscored the visitors 34-24 in the third quarter to lead by 19 points heading into the final period.
An 8-0 start to the fourth quarter left the Warriors cruising 27 points clear at 96-69 to effectively put the game out of reach.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was able to withdraw his starters with five minutes left in the game.
Curry led the scoring with 21 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, while Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins had 19 points apiece.
“We did what we were supposed to do – we won the first game, but there’s a lot of work left,” Curry said.
“We had a specific game plan coming in and for the most part we executed it. It’s going to take that same effort three more times to beat this team,” Curry added.
Kerr praised the defensive performance of Wiggins in shutting down Doncic.
“Wiggs was fantastic,” Kerr said. “Doncic is as difficult a cover as there is in this league.
“We just asked Andrew to hound him and guard him as best as he could, try to keep the pressure on him. He did a fantastic job.” Klay Thompson failed to score a point in the first two quarters but got into the groove in the second half with 15 points. Seven Warriors players finished in double figures.
Doncic led the Mavericks’ scoring with 20 points, but cut a disconsolate figure after a defeat where Dallas trailed for almost the entirety of the game.
The 23-year-old insisted however that there was still time to turn the series around.
“It’s one game,” Doncic said. “That’s what the playoffs are about. If you lose by one point or 40 points, it’s just a loss. We just have to get ready for Game 2 now.”
Dallas coach Jason Kidd pointed out that his team had recovered from a 2-0 series deficit against Phoenix. “We’ve lost two games in a row before and found a way to get back in the series,” Kidd said.
“This is one game. They did their part and we’ve got to figure it out.”