Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dallas Mavericks 93 at Golden State Warriors 95 - December 11, 2013


With another week off between NFL games, I had to figure out where to spend all that time. I wanted to avoid spending single nights in hotels, as the constant checking in and out has gotten tiring after 3 months. Upon investigation of the sports schedule, I discovered that the Mavericks and Warriors would be playing in Oakland on Wednesday night. Having seen these two teams play in Dallas just two weeks prior, I found this a compelling contest, and with the Raiders game not until Sunday, it gave me 5 full days to relax in the Bay Area. So I drove to Oakland from Phoenix over a couple of days and then headed over to Oracle Arena to see what would happen.

Oracle Arena



Located right next to the O.Co Coliseum, Oracle Arena was first opened in 1966, a great year to be born. A renovation in 1996 completely redid the interior, and the arena still looks almost new once inside. Unlike most basketball arenas, which are oval in shape, Oracle Arena is round and this leads to a more compact seating bowl. In particular, the upper deck isn't that far away, with just a single level of suites separating it from the lower bowl. As well, the lower corner seats point directly at the floor, something I like although I never sit there.



The Arena was first used regularly by the California Seals of the old Western Hockey League, and the NHL's Seals also played here before moving to Cleveland (and then merging with Minnesota, who moved to Dallas, whose basketball team was in town tonight, completing the circle).

The roof here slopes down from the top, so if you sit in the last few rows in the upper deck (as I did), you cannot see the stats boards at the other end of the building.



I got to the arena late and didn't have time to wander around as the relatively narrow concourse gets quite crowded. The Warriors were holding a social media promotion called DubNation in honour of George W. Bush. Or not. Anyway, they were giving away free t-shirts if you checked into the Golden State Home Game on Facebook, but my phone from 1983 wasn't capable of that, so I got nothing. The main point of this promo was to get fans tweeting with the #DubNation hashtag, and perhaps generate some buzz that way. With the game on ESPN, I didn't think it really needed any more publicity, and I was right as it turned out to be a pretty entertaining game on its own merits.

The Game

This was not a big draw and I was able to pick up an upper level ticket for $20 from a scalper with a business card, who urged me to call him for the 49ers/Raiders/Sharks etc. I've said it before, but some of these guys are very professional, and if he has a business card, you can pretty much trust him. He even broke a pair for me, and didn't sell the other one, so I had a bit of room at my seat.



The first quarter was brutal for both teams, with Golden State shooting just 25% and committing 7 turnovers while Dallas shot 37.5% to lead 23-16 at the break. The second quarter was much better, with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (above) scoring 9 points each for the Warriors, but Dirk Nowitzki nailed a couple of three pointers late to make it 54-32 Dallas, the biggest lead of the game. A 12-1 Warrior run to end the quarter, including a couple of treys from Thompson, kept them in the game.



The third quarter was the reverse of the first, with Golden State shooting 37.5% to Dallas' 25% as the Warriors narrowed the margin to 72-66 as the final quarter got underway.



Halfway through, the Mavs still led by 6 when Draymond Green stole the ball from DeJuan Blair and eventually sent it to Curry at the right corner, who drained the three (above). Thirty seconds later, another Curry 3 tied the game at 82 and the place went wild. Dallas didn't break though, slowing the game down and taking a 92-86 with just over a minute to go. Curry was on fire though, and drained another three, this time getting fouled by Jose Calderon in the process. Curry completed the four-point play and when Nowitzki turned the ball over on the next possession, Curry brought it back down. Everybody expected him to shoot, but he found an open Green, who hit yet another three to make it 93-92 Warriors with just 49.9 seconds left. Dallas called their final full timeout while fans danced in joy.

Coming out of the timeout, ex-Warrior Monta Ellis was fouled by Harrison Barnes but made only one of two free throws to tie the game. After Curry missed a layup, Dallas used their 20-second timeout, leaving them with none. Again Ellis' number was called, but he missed a jumper and Curry rebounded, setting the stage for a fantastic finish. Again everybody expected him to shoot, and this time he did, faking out Shawn Marion and sinking a 19-footer with just 1.5 seconds left. With no timeouts, the Mavericks were confused for a second, but they had no choice but to attempt a shot from beyond half-court and Calderon's attempt missed as the Warriors escaped with a great 95-93 comeback win.



You can see the reply of the winning shot on the scoreboard above. Below is the crowd and the floor a few seconds later. This was a very good game to watch, but it all came down to Curry - once he got hot, the Mavericks were toast. He finished with 33 points and 10 assists, and should be a lock for the All-Star Game.



Interestingly, rookie Nemanja Nedovic came off the bench to chest bump Curry, which should have been a technical foul. I don't think any of the referees noticed in all the confusion, but it was a talking point the next day on some ESPN shows. Frankly, I think both teams expected Dallas to call a timeout, but they had none left. Lesson: keep one timeout just in case.

Notes

The last time I visited here was April, 1994. Some friends and I drove down for Games 3 and 4 of the Sharks first ever playoff appearance and the Warriors were hosting the Lakers (coached by Magic Johnson) on the same weekend. I don't remember the game at all, but Basketball Reference tells me the Warriors won in a blowout.

Steph Curry was the subject of an interview in ESPN: The Magazine, which I recommend as it is not the typical athlete interview ridden with cliches, but a serious discussion about basketball. The big revelation: Curry's first name is Wardell, which goes well with DubNation.

From NBA.Com: "Newly signed Warriors big man Hilton Armstrong made his Warriors debut with 2:44 remaining in the third quarter. Armstrong is believed to be the first NBA player ever to wear No. 57 in a game." I find this amazing on two fronts: first, there are no official records on uniform numbers that can be checked, and second, in the history of the game, Heinz has never thought of sponsoring a player.

Next Up

There's an ECHL game at the Cow Palace on Friday night featuring Ontario (not my home province, but the city here in California) and the SF Bulls, and then the Chiefs and Raiders do battle on Sunday afternoon. Check back for updates on both games as the NFL trip slowly comes to a close.

Best,

Sean

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