SAN FRANCISCO — The gold-clad crowd at Chase Center started to chant “M-V-P” in the third quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Friday night.
But it wasn’t Stephen Curry stepping up to the free throw line.
The cheers were for Kevon Looney, who played harder than arguably any player on the court in the Warriors’ 126-117 comeback win over the Mavericks to take a 2-0 series lead.
Looney delivered another sensational performance for the Warriors against the undersized Mavericks. He scored 11 of his career-high 21 points in the third quarter to help the Warriors come back from a 14-point halftime deficit. He punctuated the run with a dunk at the buzzer to end the quarter that pulled the Warriors within two points.
Looney also grabbed eight of his 12 rebounds in the second half. Friday’s game marked his second career postseason double-double and first during this year’s playoffs.
Looney’s impressive second half performance provided the Warriors a much needed lift as Golden State played most of the final two quarters without Draymond Green, who was in foul trouble after picking up his fifth early in the third quarter. Green ultimately fouled out with 2:25 left in the fourth.
The Warriors took their first lead after Otto Porter Jr. made a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and Curry and fellow guard Jordan Poole took over from that point forward. Curry scored 10 points and Poole added 12 in the fourth quarter as Golden State outscored the Mavericks 40-32.
The first half was littered with ugly turnovers for the Warriors, which put Golden State in a 19-point hole. When the final buzzer sounded, Friday’s win marked the Warriors’ third-largest comeback playoff victory in the last 20 years.
Dallas pulled out to a 16-point lead in the first quarter, which the Warriors cut down to three thanks to a 13-0 run led by Curry, who had 20 points at the half.
The Mavericks beat the Warriors at their own game in the first, launching – and making – shots from beyond the arc at a high rate, moving the ball and grabbing rebounds.
After making only 11 of their 48 3-point attempts in Game 1 for a lousy success rate of 22.9%, Dallas had much more success from beyond the arc Friday night and the Warriors perimeter defense was porous. The Mavericks made 15 3s in the first half, shooting 55.6% from deep in the first half. Meanwhile, the Warriors made only eight triples and took 15 total before heading into the locker room.
The whistles kept blowing, with the Warriors being called for 13 fouls in the first half. Some of the calls prompted fans inside Chase Center to erupt into “Ref you suck!” chants on more than one occasion.
At one point, Warriors owner Joe Lacob chimed in from his courtside seats and appeared to channel Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with criticism for the officials.
Despite a rough first half for Golden State, the Mavericks and Luka Dončić didn’t have answers for the Warriors in the fourth quarter as the they pulled off the impressive come-from-behind victory.
Curry finished with 32 points and made six 3s. Andrew Wiggins added 16 and had another impressive defensive performance while Poole had 23 points off the bench.
After holding Dončić to just 20 points in Game 1, the Mavericks star scored a game-high 42 points, including 14 in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough.
The Warriors remain perfect at Chase Center in the postseason, boasting a 8-0 playoff record at home. This was their 200th postseason win in franchise history, making them only the fifth team to reach that milestone. The Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs are the only other members of the exclusive 200 Club.
With Golden State now just two wins away from heading to its first NBA finals in three years, the best-of-seven series will move to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday.
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Author: Madeline Kenney