Thompson, Durant carry Warriors past Mavericks
OAKLAND, Calif. — Harrison Barnes returned to his first NBA home Thursday night with 16 points and seven rebounds, reminding his old fans what they’ve missed the last two seasons.
At the same time, Kevin Durant reminded them why Barnes is no longer around.
Durant tied a season high with 36 points and Klay Thompson buried three consecutive 3-pointers during a fourth-quarter flurry that finally allowed the Warriors to pull away from Barnes and the Mavericks en route to a 112-97 victory.
“He’s just really, really good,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Durant. “KD is one of the most talented scorers to ever play the game. He can make stuff out of nothing. He’s basically unguardable.”
The Warriors won for the fourth straight time since star guard Stephen Curry sprained his right ankle.
Durant, signed to a two-year, $54 million deal as Barnes was negotiating a four-year, $94.4 million deal with the Mavericks in 2016, has averaged 33.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists in Curry’s absence.
“It’s so amazing to have a player like him who, without me saying anything to him, he just takes over,” Kerr said. “As soon as Steph comes back, Kevin’s usage rate will go down and his points per game will go down and he won’t mind. He has this amazing combination of skill and confidence and sort of humility and deference to his teammates. A powerful, powerful force.”
Curry isn’t expected back for at least another week. Durant has taken a “whenever” approach to the situation.
“I’m looking forward to Steph and Draymond (Green) coming back and whatever role I have,” he shrugged. “I’m ready to conquer whatever comes in front of me.”
The Mavericks (8-21) led by as many as eight points in the first half and were still within 80-73 at the end of the third quarter before the defending champs took charge en route to their season-best eighth win in a row.
Andre Iguodala and Omri Casspi had dunks to get the Warriors rolling in the final period, before Thompson’s 3-point run powered an 11-0 burst that opened a 100-83 lead with six minutes remaining.
Thompson hit all five of his 3-point attempts during a 25-point game for the Warriors (23-6).
Durant’s 36 points were tops for Golden State, which beat Dallas for the eighth straight time overall and 10th in a row at home. Durant also had 11 rebounds and seven assists.
“I thought Maxi (Kleber) stepped up to the challenge and did a good job,” Barnes said of his rookie teammate, who drew the defensive assignment most of the night on Durant. “When you’re playing against great players, it’s tough.”
Casspi, starting in Green’s spot, joined Durant in the double-double column with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Iguodala totaled 10 assists, a career high for a reserve performance.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points to complement Barnes’ 16 for the Mavericks, who had held their previous 10 opponents to an average of 97.8 points.
Barnes had scored 25 points in each of his two previous Oakland homecomings.
“We’re right there in games,” said Barnes, refusing to take solace in the closer-than-the-score-indicated outcome. “It’s just a matter of winning games. We can’t continue to have games where it’s 36 minutes, 38 minutes, 40 minutes of hard play. It’s got to be 48 minutes and a win.”
The Warriors, held to one 3-pointer in each of the first two quarters, finished 11-for-22 from beyond the arc. They shot 60.3 percent from the field overall.
The Mavericks connected on 45.1 percent from the field and 10-for-29 on 3s.
There were nine lead changes and seven ties in the first half, which ended in a 48-48 deadlock. The Mavericks had outscored the Warriors 18-6 on 3-pointers at that point.
“The biggest thing was we didn’t match their intensity until the middle of the second quarter,” Kerr said. “They’ve been playing well.”
Dallas led for most of the half, including by eight on three occasions in the second quarter.
Durant had two hoops in an 8-0 run late in the period that helped produce the halftime time.
NOTES: The Warriors ran their record on Thursday nights under Steve Kerr to 23-5. ... The Warriors improved to 8-1 when holding their opponent to fewer than 100 points. ... The Warriors, two games into a stretch of playing nine of 10 at home, get the next three days off, their first three-day break of the season. ... Mavericks C Dirk Nowitzki came within two points of his 39th career game of 20 or more points against the Warriors. His 38 are easily the most among active players. ... Dallas fell to 3-4 in December after going 1-7 in October and 4-10 in November. ... The Mavericks committed 12 turnovers, their sixth consecutive game with 12 or fewer.