OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Thanks to Golden State’s two hungry rookies and a star who’s still trying, the Dallas Mavericks probably won’t finish on top of the Western Conference.
Jason Richardson scored 25 points and the lowly Warriors shocked the mighty Mavericks for the third time this season, winning 114-102 Wednesday night.
Rookies Ike Diogu had 22 points and nine rebounds, and Monta Ellis had a career-high 17 points for the Warriors, who snapped their nine-game losing streak and the Mavericks’ five-game winning streak with another improbable effort against one of the NBA’s best teams.
Richardson and Diogu scored 10 points apiece in the fourth quarter while Golden State coolly held off Dirk Nowitzki and his high-scoring teammates with a poise they’ve rarely showed this season. Golden State, which hadn’t won since beating Sacramento on March 26, played an outstanding 32-point fourth quarter, making a 15-4 run midway through the period.
“Maybe once you beat a team that’s good like that, especially once or twice at their place, it gives you confidence that you can play against them,” said Richardson, whose effort hasn’t waned while the Warriors sink to their 12th straight losing season, even with Baron Davis sidelined for nearly two months with an ankle injury.
“I don’t know why it is. I just know we needed a win real bad.”
The Warriors can’t explain why they’re the only team in the league to beat Dallas three times. Neither can the Mavs, who faced one furious Little General after blowing a golden opportunity to sneak up behind San Antonio in the regular season’s waning days.
“I have been waiting for 79 games to get some internal leadership, and I haven’t gotten it yet,” coach Avery Johnson said. “This is one of the most disappointing games that I’ve been a part of as Mavericks coach. At the same time, it’s my fault.
“We had no energy, no emotion, no concentration, just nothing. We were disinterested in playing basketball tonight. We didn’t earn our paycheck. We need to give Mark Cuban a rebate, all of us. We need to give him a rebate on the amount of money he is paying us. It’s not always about winning and losing, but we didn’t earn it.”
Troy Murphy scored 16 points for the Warriors, who played in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. They’re one of just three teams with two victories over Dallas this season, joining the Spurs and the Lakers.
“At the end of the season every year, they play like this,” said Darrell Armstrong, who had four points for Dallas. “They play good, but they ain’t going no … where.”
Nowitzki scored 29 points—but just 14 after the first quarter—and Josh Howard added 18 for Dallas (59-20), which missed its first chance to match the franchise record with 60 victories. The Mavericks trail San Antonio (60-18) by 1 1/2 games in the Southwest Division and Western Conference standings.
And the Spurs are likely to finish with the better conference record, the tiebreaker if the clubs finish with the same overall record. That means Dallas probably will be the No. 4 seed in the West despite its impressive play all season, opening against the tough Clippers or Grizzlies before a probable second-round meeting with the Spurs.
“We’re still a great team in a great position,” said Jerry Stackhouse, who scored 16 points. “We still have a lot that we want to prove once the playoffs get here, no matter what seed we are or who we’re playing. But I’m kind of glad the Golden State Warriors aren’t one of the eight (playoff teams). We’ve had a tough time against them this year.”
Though Dallas lost both of its home games against Golden State this season, the Mavs seemed ready to pull away with 24 points in the first 7 1/2 minutes of a strong third quarter. But they went cold while the Warriors found their stride and took the lead late in the period.
Golden State surged through the fourth behind Richardson and his rookie teammates, who combined for 14 points in the fourth. The Warriors needed last-minute baskets to win both of their games in Dallas this season, but their fourth-quarter run took all the suspense out of a rare festive night in Oakland.
“For whatever reason, this matchup works for us,” Golden State coach Mike Montgomery said. “The across-the-board effort was just something we haven’t seen.”
Marquis Daniels scored 12 points for Dallas, which lost for just the second time in its last 14 trips to Oakland.
Golden State hasn’t lost 10 in a row since late in the 2001-02 season. … Dallas G Darrell Armstrong converted a four-point play in the second quarter, getting fouled by Ellis as he made a 3-pointer. … Diogu had career highs in free throws made (12) and attempted (13). … 49ers fullback Chris Hetherington attended the game.