Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks: Loss to Warriors ends tough five-day stretch for the Mavs who will get a much-needed break heading into 2017

OAKLAND – Harrison Barnes still is beloved in the Bay Area.

You get the feeling the Golden State fans don’t even mind him rolling up big points against their team – as long as the Warriors win.

Barnes returned to Oracle Arena for the second time as a Maverick. He had 25 points, the same as he had in his early November visit.

And while the Warriors continue to roll along as favorites for the NBA championship, Barnes is happy to be where he is, despite the Mavericks’ losing ways, which continued as Golden State pounded them in the third quarter behind Klay Thompson’ scoring and Kevin Durant’s triple-double versatility and cruised to a 108-99 victory Friday night.

So the Mavericks finished their only four-game, five-night stretch of the season with a 1-3 record, having won at the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday.

Against the Warriors, they were lapped in the third quarter and none of the starters played in the fourth, when the Warriors lost interest and the score got a little respectable. Durant finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists and Thompson had 29 points, 17 in the third quarter.

It was a reminder to Barnes that the Warriors are still the Warriors.

“Yeah, this is a different kind of team to play,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “These guys have two and possibly three MVP candidates. You got to put Thompson in that category – a guy can go for 60 in a game. So they’re really loaded up with great players. And (Draymond) Green is a great player, too.”

The Mavericks split the two games on this quick trip to the West Coast and when they got back to their hotel after the Warriors’ game, they now have put 2016 behind them and the schedule – in theory – turns friendlier starting next week.

“Once we’re all healthy and we find a rotation that works for everybody, we can make a little run at this and have some fun winning some games,” said Dirk Nowitzki. “This whole season, both November and December were crazy. We got a nice little three-day break. Stop traveling so much, the schedule lightens up, so it’s looking up.”

Nowitzki, by the way, played into the third quarter for the first time since returning from his Achilles problem. He said other than fatigue – attributable to a nasty illness he had on Thursday and Friday morning – he felt fine.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said of feeling tired. “Especially with the sickness on top of it. But the Achilles felt great and that’s really all that matters now.”

The Mavericks are hopeful that next week Andrew Bogut, who sat out this game, And Nowitzki will be together, although not necessarily in the starting lineup. And J.J. Barea could return shortly after the New Year, too.

As for Nowitzki, Carlisle said: “He’s doing well. It’s the first time he’s played into the third quarter and it was pretty clear that in the third, fatigue was becoming a factor. But a lot of positive signs. We got a travel day and then New Year’s Day off, so we got a couple days to catch our breath and then we’re home for three.

“It’s been a whirlwind year, but we’re inching along with health. We’re seeing some positive things even though we’re struggling to win some of these difficult games.”

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