DALLAS – Luka Dončić scored 21 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks star’s efforts weren’t enough to beat a Warriors team that emerged with a 109-100 victory Friday night.
Golden State is now one win away from the NBA Finals.
The Warriors’ starters were in rhythm all night on both ends of the floor, putting together a series of scoring flurries while also getting defensive stops.
Not even a vendor serving courtside seats who accidentally tripped Stephen Curry at the end of the first half could stop the Warriors’ star Friday night. Curry finished with 31 points, made five 3-pointers and dished out 11 assists while grabbing five rebounds.
Wiggins was also impressive, especially in the fourth quarter. He dunked over Dončić, sending the 23-year-old to the ground. The Warriors forward was initially called for a foul, but coach Steve Kerr successfully overturned the call, giving the Warriors a 10-point lead.
Wiggins scored 10 of his playoff career-high 27 points in the final quarter and finished with 11 rebounds, his first 20-point/10-rebound game in the postseason.
The first two quarters were a pendulum swing, with the Warriors leading by as many as 12 points in the first quarter and Dallas by nine in the second.
The Warriors rallied back from the deficit, ending the first half with a 15-5 run. During the scoring spurt, Curry hit two 3-pointers. He celebrated the second one by waving his tongue at fans as he ran down the court, though Mavericks coach Jason Kidd called a timeout to regroup.
Emotions ran high throughout the entire game but especially at that point. Curry’s celebration seemed to prompt Dončić to exchange words with Juan Toscano-Anderson and Jordan Poole. Eventually, officials stepped in to separate Poole and the Mavericks star. Draymond Green responded by yelling at Dončić and the entire Mavericks’ bench, which received its third fine of the postseason for “bench decorum” prior to Sunday’s game.
The Mavericks, whose game plan was to keep shooting with hopes their offense would generate defense, made only six of their 25 3-point attempts in the first half. Jalen Brunson made one of those at the end of the second quarter to give Dallas a one-point lead. Wiggins responded on the other end with a dunk to put the Warriors up 48-47 at the break.
The Warriors starters outscored the Grizzlies’ opening unit 96-52. Klay Thompson had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Green had 10 points, five assists and five rebounds. Kevon Looney, the hero of Game 2 just two nights prior, finished with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Warriors held Reggie Bullock scoreless as the Mavericks forward went 0-for-10 from the field and missed seven 3-point attempts. Bullock is only the 10th player in NBA playoff history to be held scoreless while playing at least 40 minutes.
Brunson had 20 and Spencer Dinwiddie added 26 off the bench.
The Warriors’ win did come with a costly loss.
Otto Porter Jr., who has been a reliable role player all postseason, limped off the court to the locker room with trainers midway through the second quarter, favoring his left foot. He underwent an X-ray and the Warriors announced just after halftime that the veteran forward would not return. The extent of his injury is unclear, but it’s noteworthy that Porter missed the end of the Western Conference semifinals series against the Grizzlies with foot soreness.
The Warriors now own a comfortable 3-0 series lead, which no team has overcome to win a playoff series in NBA history. Dallas will host a critical Game 4 on Tuesday night.
What’s at stake?
For the Warriors, it’s their sixth trip to the NBA finals in eight years.
For the Mavericks, it’s their season.
A Dallas win would force the series back to San Francisco for a Game 5.