Jan 01, 2016

    Curry-less Warriors slain by Mavericks


    THE Golden State Warriors fizzled out without sizzling Stephen Curry on Wednesday, falling 114-91 to the Mavericks in Dallas in just their second defeat of the NBA season.

    The Mavericks made the most of Curry's absence with a lower left leg injury.

    Dallas raced to an early 17-point lead and led by as many as 30.

    An MRI exam of Curry's sore leg revealed no structural damage.

    "As long as it's not anything serious, we're fine that he might need a couple of days to heal," Golden State interim coach Luke Walton said.

    But with Curry watching from the bench, the Warriors were in trouble throughout.

    The Mavericks led 60-42 at half-time and with forward Harrison Barnes, back-up guard Leandro Barbosa and reserve centre Festus Ezeli also all sidelined by injury, Walton could do little to turn the tide.

    Golden State guard Klay Thompson had one of his worst nights of the season, connecting on just four of 15 shots from the floor and one of two from the free throw line for 10 points, his lowest contribution since Nov 11.

    Uncharacteristically sluggish offensively, the Warriors were also ineffective in defence.

    Thirty-two of the Mavericks' 60 first-half points came in the paint, where they held a 22-point advantage at the interval.

    Dallas built the lead to 83-53 with 5.05 left in the third.

    Dallas guard J. J. Barea, making his fourth straight start in place of injured Deron Williams, scored a game-high 23 points that included a Curry-like five of seven from three-point range.

    Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and eight rebounds, centre ZaZa Pachulia posted his 17th double-double of the season with 14 points and 15 rebounds, and guards Wesley Matthews and Devin Harris contributed 13 points each.

    The Warriors fell to 29-2 - still a record-setting season start that Mavs coach Rick Carlisle called "completely remarkable".

    In another significant stop on the Kobe Bryant farewell tour, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar produced a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds to help the Lakers to a 112-104 victory over the Celtics in Boston.

    Cheered in pre-game introductions - then booed when he touched the ball - the 37-year-old veteran came away with more emotional memories from his last appearance at the Celtics' TD Garden before he retires at the end of the season.

    "Being able to say thanks to the fans was a beautiful moment," said Bryant, who patted his chest in recognition of the pre-game ovation.

    He was even more touched, however, by the jeers that recognised the long Celtics-Lakers enmity, a rivalry that he said had shaped his career.

    "It felt great to get booed," Bryant said. "The recognition at the top of the game, and then as soon as I touched the ball and they booed, I'm like, 'Oh, I'm home.'" Bryant did not score until his ninth shot, which came with 3.58 left in the first half.

    But the Lakers managed to score 58 points in the half and kept the pressure on in the third quarter.

    Bryant was treated to another ovation as the game ended, chants of "Ko-be!" echoing around the arena before he exchanged embraces with several Celtics players.

    Bryant said the Celtics played a pivotal role in his NBA career. After the Lakers' 2008 NBA title bid ended in a blowout loss to the Celtics in Boston, he and the Lakers turned the tables with a seven-game Finals triumph over the Celtics in 2010.

    "When we lost (to the Celtics) in 2008, that was the turn for me," Bryant said. "That was when it was like, 'Listen, I have to figure this leadership thing out by any means necessary. I can't go through this,' and that was the turning point for me."

    In Chicago, Bulls guard Jimmy Butler tipped in an alley-oop pass with 1.2 seconds left in overtime to lift the hosts to a 102-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

    Butler scored 23 of his 28 points in the second half and overtime and guard Aaron Brooks came off the bench to score a season-high 29 points for Chicago, who pulled off the victory despite the absence of star guard Derrick Rose because of right hamstring tendonitis.