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Warriors (sort of) end slide by taking care of overmatched Mavs

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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) watches his jump shot sink in the basket against the Dallas Mavericks at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on February 8, 2018. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND — Golden State fans hoping for a show of force on Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks might’ve been a little disappointed. But the slumping Warriors were able to beat the worst team in the Western Conference, 121-103.

It was a mostly offensive performance until the Mavs’ ineptitude allowed the Dubs to find some separation in the second half. Dallas controlled the majority of the first half as the home team started the game listless and uninterested in pulling itself out of its current funk.

Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry had no problem scoring the ball. They combined for 44 points on 25 shots and didn’t play in the fourth for the first time in more than a week. Durant’s buzzer beater to cap the third served as the dagger for the contest.

It wasn’t the kind of result that should fill fans with hope and confidence. But it’s a step in the right direction.

Draymond Green moved backwards if the goal was to not inch closer toward suspension. After hearing a speech from general manager Bob Myers earlier in the day about curtailing the team’s technical fouls, Green received his 14th tech of the season in the first half. He’s two more away from an automatic one-game suspension.

Here’s what the players had to say after the game (courtesy Warriors PR):

Steve Kerr on tonight’s game:

“It took us a while to get going, but I liked the way we dug our way out. We didn’t quite get out of it until the second half. We looked discouraged at times in the first half. It’s always hard to play against Dallas. They are really well coached, they run great stuff, they put you in tough spots and even when they are depleted with injuries they still find a way to make it difficult. We fought through the first half, whatever, malaise, or whatever you want to call and ultimately got it going.”

Steve Kerr on the offense running through Draymond Green:

“I liked the way Draymond fought. It was one of those games where nothing was going his way, but he was competing. A lot of those misses tonight were tips. He had like three or four tips at the rim in one possession. All of sudden 4-for-10 becomes 4-for-13. The numbers make it look like he was jacking up shots, but he really wasn’t. He was just competing and nothing was going down for him. I thought they were smart and had a good gameplan. They put a small guy on him and tried to entice us into playing differently and for a little bit we did. Once we just played and let that matchup play itself out we were in much better shape.”

Steve Kerr on what helped the team in the second half:

“I think our talent just took over in the third quarter. We obviously had a lot more talent on the floor tonight than they did. Then Steph (Stephen Curry) and KD (Kevin Durant) got going and they were hitting tough, contested shots. In the NBA, it’s a 48 minute game. It’s a long game and it’s one of the reasons we always say if we take care of the ball, over the course of the length of game, we are going to be in good shape. Our talent is going to take over. The third quarter was good for us with the shot making and then in the fourth, that second unit with Shaun (Livingston), Andre (Iguodala) David (West), Draymond and Klay (Thompson) – I thought they were the ones that took control of the game with defense and execution.”

Kevin Durant on overcoming the first half:

“I know a lot of people expect us to be great every night. That’s a great standard to set, but some nights we’re going to be in a slug fest. Some nights we’re going to struggle to score. Some nights we’re going to turn the ball over. I don’t think it’s something we should all be up in arms about. Once we start struggling, we can’t get in our own way. We just have to keep playing. I think tonight we just did a good of just playing off our own instincts and not worrying about if we make a mistake. If we make one or two mistakes, we try not to make a mistake the next play. Tonight we just played and played off our instincts. Guys did what they did best, which is just play their games. We came out and got a solid win.”

 Kevin Durant on the Warriors switching up their style of play:

“Like I said, it’s not going to be that way all the time. Teams are getting better. Teams know what we do. They’re not just going to let us get out in transition, shoot a bunch of threes or get dunks off our cuts. They’re going to be a little physical with us. They’re going try to shoot good shots in their hands so we won’t get out in transition and run. When you don’t see that, it’s not a problem, it’s just we’re going to have to shift how we play and change how we play. I don’t think we can pivot throughout a game, throughout a season, throughout a stretch where we might have to slow down a bit. Might have to shot less threes, and throw it in the post to D West (David West) or Dray (Draymond Green) or me or Dot (Shaun Linvingston) and try to figure out offense that way. Loosen them up a bit. Then our three-point game will work. It’s about just figuring out different ways to play. We have such a talented group that we can play in different ways. It doesn’t have to always have to be 121-103 game or 140 where we have 15 threes and everybody is excited in the arena. Sometimes it’s going to be a 95-85 game. Be prepared for that as fans and media members that sometimes it might not be the fast pace game that we want. That’s what makes us a great team, we can play either way.”

 Kevin Durant on playing with Klay Thompson:

“It’s an honor, it’s a joy to play alongside Klay. He’s one of those guys that just loves to play the game. Basketball is enough for him. Everything else doesn’t really matter. That’s contagious when you see a guy who just loves to play. You start to think about why you started to play. It’s good to have a guy like that on your team. He just makes us go. When he’s hot, he makes us go. When he’s defending that way, he makes us go. It’s tough to stop us when he’s really engaged and locked in and he’s been that way since I got here.”

Draymond Green on the defensive effort:

“It’s a lot better, when guys are rotating. More importantly, just taking it more serious on ball defense I think, but we guard the ball better. We give ourselves a better chance of getting there. When you fly around, and then you get there your kind of mess their floor balance up, and that’s when you start getting out of transition. I think we guarded the ball a lot better. We communicated better and that led to stops.”

Draymond Green on being defended by guards:

“I mean, take them to the post somewhat. At the end of the day, that’s kind of what they want, to take us on our offense, I mean I could probably score ten times. The team’s still going to pick that over everything else we do. So not necessarily playing into their hands, or to what they want to do, they’ll definitely take advantage of us.”

jpalmer@sfexaminer.com

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