Luka Dončić had been dominating for most of the night, yelling in celebration and flexing his arms in Stephen Curry’s house.
Then Curry and the Golden State Warriors delivered one of those signature third-quarter corridors that have defined so many of their postseason runs – with this one sparked by Kevon Looney.
Just like that, the warriors are two wins from getting back to another NBA finals.
“Night night,” Curry declared as a three-pointer went through the net in the waning moments.
Curry scored 32 points with six three-pointers and eight more rebounds, Looney had a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds, and the Warriors rallied past the Dallas Mavericks 126-117 on Friday for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
“I feel honored just to be a part of the ride,” Looney said.
Dončić scored 42 points and the Mavericks led most of the way before Golden State grabbed its first lead of the night on Otto Porter Jr’s three-pointer 18 seconds into the fourth. Curry could see a momentum shift at that moment.
“We have that attitude and spirit that we’re never out of it,” Curry said.
Dončić had 18 points in the first quarter, two shy of his 20-point Game 1 total. His three-pointer with 13 seconds before halftime – the Mavs’ 15th of the first half – made it 72-58 at the break and gave him 24 points.
He even got a Twitter shoutout from Oakland’s own MC Hammer: “Ok young Luka … We see you.”
But Golden State answered with a 25-13 third quarter to pull to 85-83 going into fourth – coming out of halftime with a performance reminiscent of those thrilling third quarters of past. The Warriors trailed by 19 at one point.
“We know how good they are as a third-quarter team,” Dallas forward Reggie Bullock said. “It’s just something that slipped away from us as the game continued to go on.”
Dončić shot 12 for 23 and shined in a game of brilliant shotmaking – the Warriors finished 56.1% from the floor. In the first half alone, Dallas edged Golden State 52.3% to 51.2%, including a remarkable 55.6% to 53.3% from 3-point range.
“Against someone that good you’re just trying to limit the easy stuff,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Looney then had 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the third and Golden State outscored Dallas 68-45 after halftime.
“It’s the Warriors. They have a great team. They’re a championship team. We’ve got to adjust our defense,” Doncic said. ”… We were up 19, so it’s a tough situation. But we can’t look back. What happened, happened. So we’ve got to move on.”
Among the luminaries seated courtside at the Chase Center for the Warriors’ come-from-behind triumph was the musician Adele.
The series shifts to Dallas for Game 3 on Sunday. Golden State is two wins from a return to the NBA finals for the first time since making five straight trips from 2015-19.
“We’re on the road against one of the best teams in the league. It happens. They held serve,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ve seen this in Phoenix so now we have to go back and just focus on Game 3.”
Jordan Poole scored 23 points off the bench, Andrew Wiggins had 16 and Klay Thompson – held scoreless in the first half of the series opener – added 15 points for a second straight game. Golden State scored 62 points in the paint.
Jalen Brunson scored eight of the first 14 Dallas points on the way to 31. The Mavericks didn’t have to see as much of Draymond Green, who picked up his fifth foul with 6:01 left in the third, then returned with 6: 33 left before fouling out with 2:25 to go.
The teams tangled with 8:03 left in the second quarter in front of the Dallas bench. Warriors reserve Damion Lee closed out as Davis Bertans hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Bertans tripped Lee and sent him in a flip hard to the floor. Lee had to be held back by official Eric Lewis.
The players were issued double technicals.
In Game 1 two days earlier, Doncic faced smothering defense from Wiggins and shot just 6 for 18 and 3 of 10 from deep. Kidd expected a far better outing in Game 2.
Golden State continued to push the pace and committed 16 turnovers after 15 in the opener. At halftime, Kerr asked his team to settle down.
“I told them that if we developed some poise in the second half, that the game would come to us,” he said. “But I thought we were so scattered in the first half. Maybe emotionally more than anything. Dallas came out and just punched us.”