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That’s it? That was the Dallas Mavericks’ statement game? Needing desperately to swagger into Oakland and blow out the depleted, winless Golden State Warriors, the Mavs instead turned back the calendar six months and almost got sucker-punched again. A win is a win and all, but Dallas did nothing -- and I mean nothing -- as far as exacting revenge for last spring’s playoff upset or sending a message that this year’s team is tougher, quicker or more mentally capable of handling the pesky Warriors.
In fact, I imagine Golden State is further heartened by Thursday night’s 120-115 loss. The Warriors, now 0-5, played without starters Stephen Jackson and Mickael Pietrus, missed 14 of 30 free throws and still, still had a chance to force overtime when the Mavs -- Trenton Hassell, to be exact -- inexplicably left Baron Davis wide friggin’ open for a three-pointer in the final seconds.
In what was basically a three-hour Frank Caliendo promo interrupted intermittently by a basketball game, Dirk Nowitzki again regressed into his docile, deferring self and the Mavs were out-hustled, out-dunked, out-everythinged by the Warriors -- except out-scored. In short, it was not impressive.
If the Mavs have the misfortune of meeting Golden State again in the post-season, this win will do nothing to dent the Warriors’ confidence. But the victory did push Dallas to 4-1 and the Warriors to 0-5. Dallas’ best hope is that Don Nelson somehow misses the playoffs. --Richie Whitt