Draymond Green enjoyed his return to action for the Golden State Warriors, and is now looking to add "spark to this team".

Green returned from an indefinite suspension for a history of misconduct in the Warriors' clash with the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.

After missing the last 16 games, Green came onto the court to a chorus of boos from the Grizzlies fans during the first quarter.

He scored two 3-pointers and finished with seven rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes on the court, but the Warriors lost 116-107.

"It was fun being back on the court," Green said.

"Getting the chance to play basketball, that's always fun. It was a little weird going out of the tunnel to go shoot and do my pregame, but after that it just settled down.

"I think [the minutes] will go up pretty fast, but until it does I will try to be the best I can be in the minutes I have and bring a spark to this team."

The Grizzlies were short-handed, with Ja Morant out for the rest of the season and Desmond Bane set to miss up to six weeks due to an ankle injury.

Yet the Warriors could not get the better of their hosts as they slumped to an eighth defeat in the space of 11 games.

"Their game plan was pretty simple. Shoot as many 3s as possible and get into transition as often as possible," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, whose team are 12th in the Western Conference.

"Then for us to foul 25 times to their 21, that's really the story. They gained belief as they went.

"All of these guys are in the NBA. We tell them that before every game like this. These guys are in the NBA for a reason.

"They knew they had to do that and we knew they had to do that. We didn't play the game that could keep them from doing that."

Green did not hold back in his thoughts on the Warrior's defense.

"Individuals make up a team. Individually our defense sucks, so in turn our team defense sucks," he said.

"If we've got guys that will take pride in themselves and play defense, one through however many guys we have, then it is solvable. If guys won't take pride in defense, then it's not. It's very simple."

The Memphis Grizzlies got career-best scoring performances from Vince Williams Jr. and GG Jackson to overcome a slew of injured players and spoil Draymond Green's return to the Golden State Warriors' lineup in Monday's 116-107 win.

Williams amassed 24 points and seven rebounds and Jackson contributed 23 points off the bench on a night Memphis was without three of its top four scorers for the season in Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Marcus Smart.

Both players recorded eight fourth-quarter points as the Grizzlies pulled away late to halt a two-game losing streak and hand the reeling Warriors an eighth loss in 11 games.

Green had seven points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes in his first appearance in just over a month. The former NBA Defensive Player of the Year had just completed serving an indefinite NBA suspension for striking Phoenix Suns centre Jusuf Nurkic in the face on Dec. 12.

The Warriors owned a 91-90 lead following Stephen Curry's go-ahead 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, but Memphis responded with a 16-5 run to break the game open. 

Jackson, who finished 5 of 8 from 3-point range, had two triples during the surge, which Luke Kennard capped with a 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies a 106-96 advantage with 7:20 left.

Golden State never got closer than seven points behind the rest of the way.

Curry led the Warriors with 26 points and Jonathan Kuminga delivered 20 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

Mavericks down rival Pelicans behind big games from Irving, Hardaway

Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr. each eclipsed the 40-point mark while rallying the Dallas Mavericks to a 125-120 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, a win that created a two-way tie atop the Southwest Division between the teams.

The Mavericks overcame a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter and another absence from superstar Luka Dončić to avenge Saturday’s 118-110 home loss to the Pelicans.

Irving and Hardaway more than made up for Doncic missing a third straight game with a sprained ankle. Irving scored 24 of his 42 points in the second half, while Hardaway had 11 of his season-high 41 points during a fourth quarter in which Dallas outscored New Orleans by a 33-21 margin.

The Pelicans held a 111-104 lead with seven minutes left before Dallas took control with a 17-4 run. Hardaway hit back-to-back 3-pointers during the pivotal spurt, the second of which gave the Mavericks a 112-111 edge with 4:16 remaining.

Jalen Green’s 3-pointer with 1:27 left to play extended Dallas’ advantage to 121-115, though New Orleans answered with five straight points to cut its deficit to one with 17.7 seconds remaining.

Irving then hit two free throws on the ensuing possession, and after the Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram missed a potential game-tying 3-point attempt, Maxi Kleber made two foul shots to seal the win and pull Dallas even with New Orleans in the standings.

Zion Williamson led the Pelicans with 30 points and CJ McCollum had 23 in the loss, though Ingram went just 3 of 14 from the field while finishing with 12 points.

Jazz extend winning streak with rout of Pacers

Lauri Markkanen put up 32 points and 10 rebounds as the resurgent Utah Jazz continued their recent winning ways with a 132-105 rout of the short-handed Indiana Pacers.

The Jazz cruised to their sixth consecutive victory behind the hot shooting of Markkanen and Collin Sexton, who went 11 of 17 from the field while scoring a season-high 30 points to go along with five assists. Markkanen made 10 of 15 field goal attempts and was a perfect 10 for 10 from the foul line.

After getting off to a 7-16 start, Utah has won 15 of its last 19 games to move up to ninth place in the Western Conference.

The Pacers lost their second in a row while playing a fourth straight game without star point guard Tyrese Haliburton, out with a hamstring injury. Indiana was also without two other key contributors in guard Bruce Brown and 3-point specialist Aaron Nesmith due to injuries.

Indiana's depleted lineup proved to be no match, as the Jazz took a 33-26 lead after one quarter and increased it to 64-50 at half-time behind 17 points from Sexton and 15 from Markkanen.

Utah maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way, with its lead swelling to 29 points in the final stages.

Buddy Hield and Andrew Nembhard each had 14 points to lead Indiana.

 

Klay Thompson felt the Golden State Warriors "had to win" as they produced an impressive second-half comeback to defeat the Chicago Bulls.

The Warriors rallied for a 140-131 win at United Center, erasing a 13-point halftime deficit with a strong turnaround.

Thompson scored 30 points and there were 27 from Stephen Curry, although 15 of those points came in the fourth quarter as he overcame a slow start.

Golden State improved to 18-20 after Thompson drained seven 3-pointers, with Curry hitting six from deep.

The Warriors dominated the third quarter 48-20 and led by 15 entering the fourth after Chicago had raced ahead in the first half, when they scored a season-high 72 points.

It was a key win with further road games against the Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz up next for the Warriors.

"This was a game we felt we had to win, especially with the upcoming road trip," Thompson said, per NBC Sports Bay Area.

"When our spirit is right, things tend to go our way. Those last two games, we just felt like they were anomalies of the season.

"We have been fighting so hard, with so many close battles lost. We were not discouraged. We know that it is a long season with ebbs and flows.

"Even though we got beat probably a combined 100 [points], we responded."

Curry finished just 8 of 24 from the field, but did have nine assists, while Jonathan Kuminga added 24 points from the bench as Golden State won despite being without Moses Moody, Chris Paul, Gary Payton II and Draymond Green.

Green is working on his conditioning after his recent suspension.

"I can't wait until Draymond is back," added Thompson. "We are not the Warriors without him.

"Hopefully within these next couple of games, maybe Memphis or Utah would be great. I think he makes the biggest impact defensively."

The Bulls fell to 18-22 despite a game-high 39 points from DeMar DeRozan, while Zach LaVine and Coby White scored 25 points each.

"They did a great job adjusting, coming out and changing up the game plan," DeRozan said about Warriors' turnaround. 

"You can never count them out no matter how big of a lead we have."

The Warriors are 12th in the Western Conference as they fight to reach the playoff positions in the standings.

"It is nice to win a game like that where I know individually I can shoot the ball better but we won a game collectively," Curry said. 

"We have a standard that we want to live up to for ourselves. 

"We are not going to win every game, but you just want to play better and I think we did that."

Coach Steve Kerr was impressed with the response after the Warriors were booed in the big home losses against the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans this week.

He said: "The whole group, the whole team, was just committed to 'Let's go out and win'.

"I'm very proud of them. They have taken a lot of heat; we have all taken a lot of heat this past week. Deservedly so. But this is what you do as a pro. A lot of these guys are champions. You have got to respond, and they did.

"We got off track emotionally and spiritually the last couple of games. Our fans could feel it. We got booed for the first time since I've been here, 10 years. 

"And, as I said, both nights we deserved it because our energy and our competitive spirit were not there. We found that again."

Stephen Curry acknowledged something needs to change for the Golden State Warriors after they suffered their second blowout loss in the space of three days, saying: "It all sucks."

The Warriors were booed off at Chase Center following Sunday's 133-118 defeat to the Toronto Raptors, and a similar reception awaited them on Wednesday as the New Orleans Pelicans ran out 141-105 victors. 

Steve Kerr's team did not lead at any point in those back-to-back defeats and are now 17-20 for the season, having gone 2-5 throughout a vital seven-game home stretch since Christmas.

Curry was limited to 15 points by the Pelicans after only managing a paltry nine against Toronto, both well below his season average of 26.7.

The two-time NBA MVP was at a loss to explain the Warriors' struggles after their latest home defeat, saying: "It's pretty evident that if things stay the same, that's the definition of insanity, right? Keep doing the same thing but expecting different results.

"You get to a point where you're trying to explain it, trying to figure out what can change specifically that can help us.

"Those conversations are happening between games, in film sessions, in the locker room. But it's headed in the opposite direction. 

"I don't know what to say about it. We're not used to this vibe around our team. It all sucks."

While the Warriors have suffered several gut-wrenching reverses this season, blowing big leads to lose to the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets, head coach Kerr says their back-to-back blowout defeats exposed a lack of belief.

"We are lacking confidence," Kerr said. "You get to a stage where you lose your belief.

"One of the coaches said we are the quietest team ever. We need guys who can rally the troops right. 

"When you're going through it like this, there is only one way out. That's to fight together, to compete together."

Jayson Tatum scored 26 of his season high-tying 45 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and the Boston Celtics remained unbeaten at home with a 127-120 victory Wednesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jaylen Brown added 35 points and 11 rebounds to help the Celtics improve to 18-0 at home for the first time in franchise history. They have won 25 consecutive regular-season home games, dating back to last March.

Anthony Edwards scored 29 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 with 13 rebounds for the Western Conference-leading Timberwolves, who trail only Boston overall.

Tatum scored the game’s final nine points after Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s 3-pointer with 2:44 left in overtime gave Minnesota a 120-118 lead.

Tatum made a pair of free throws, a driving layup and sank a 3-pointer to make it 125-120 with 51 seconds to play. His two free throws with 13 seconds remaining capped the scoring.

Wembanyama has triple-double in Spurs’ win

Victor Wembanyama notched his first NBA triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 130-108 win over the Detroit Pistons in a matchup of two of the league’s worst teams.

Wembanyama achieved the milestone in just 21 minutes, going 6 of 16 from the field while missing all four of his 3-point attempts.

In NBA history, only Russell Westbrook had a triple-double in fewer minutes (20) for Oklahoma City in 2014.

San Antonio had eight players score in double figures, including Keldon Johnson (17) and Devin Vassell (16), to snap a five-game slide.

Jalen Duren had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons, who dropped their sixth in a row since breaking their NBA record-tying 28-game losing streak.

Pelicans start fast in win over Warriors

Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and nine rebounds and Zion Williamson added 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 141-105 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The Pelicans had eight players score in double digits in their sixth win in seven games. They scored 46 points in the first quarter and led by 25 midway through the second.

Moses Moody scored 21 points off the bench for the Warriors, who have lost six of eight.

Golden State's 36-point loss was its largest at home since a 37-point defeat to San Antonio on March 26, 2007. 

Adam Silver's intervention prevented Draymond Green stepping away from basketball for good, the Golden State Warriors star has revealed.

Green is about to return from a suspension that has been in place since December 12, after he hit the Phoenix Suns' Jusuf Nurkic in the face.

That was the second suspension Green has had this season, following an altercation with Rudy Gobert in November.

And on an episode of The Draymond Green Show, the 33-year-old revealed that only a conversation with NBA commissioner Silver stopped him from retiring following his latest ban.

"I told him, 'Adam this is too much for me. This is too much. It's all becoming too much for me, and I'm going to retire'," Green said.

"And Adam said, 'You're making a very rash decision and I won't let you do that.'

"We had a long, great conversation; very helpful to me. Very thankful to play in a league with a commissioner like Adam who's more about helping you than hurting you; helping you than punishing you. He's more about the players."

Suns star Kevin Durant said at the time Green was handed the ban that the power forward needed to "get the help he needs".

On Monday, Durant explained he meant no ill will with his comments.

"You got to look at it from my perspective like before I had made those comments, [people were] saying Draymond's going to therapy and s***," Durant said.

"Like what am I supposed to think? They say somebody going to therapy, I'm hoping he gets better from that, and hope he learned from whatever he feels like he needs to learn from going to therapy.

"I'm glad he's back. I'm glad he can move past that. Draymond is an incredible teammate. He's got his times where he loses his temper, but everybody has those times and I'm sure they all [are] happy to have him back.

"But I didn't mean no ill will by what I said. I know some people look at me as this malicious snake. I know how people feel about me sometimes, so when I say s***, I don't mean no harm by nobody. I don't mean to disrespect him or his family if he felt that way. I'm just glad he's back on the court."

Golden State Warriors point guard Chris Paul is expected to be sidelined for four-to-six weeks after fracturing his left hand in Friday’s 113-109 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Paul sustained the injury when he tried to grab a long rebound and collided with Detroit’s Jaden Ivey. He could be out through the NBA All-Star break.

“That’s tough, I feel so bad for Chris, I know he’s had a couple of hand surgeries before I believe, maybe on the other hand,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday.

”I saw him holding it and instantly was worried. Just got the word after walking off the floor. So I feel terrible for Chris and obviously guys will step up and be ready to play.

“We've got to hold down the fort without him."

Golden State acquired the 38-year-old Paul in the deal that sent Jordan Poole to the Washington Wizards last July.

The 12-time All-Star and former NBA Rookie of the Year is averaging 8.9 points, 7.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 32 games (11 starts) this season.

Chris Paul will undergo surgery after fracturing his left hand in the Golden State Warriors' win over the Detroit Pistons.

During the third quarter of the Warriors' 113-109 victory on Friday, Paul injured his hand while attempting to grab a rebound, making contact with the Pistons' Jaden Ivey.

Paul went back to the locker room following the incident, and the Warriors have since announced the 38-year-old will have surgery next week.

Paul has averaged 8.9 points, 7.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game this season, and Golden State head coach Steve Kerr is disappointed for the 12-time All-Star.

"I feel so bad for Chris," Kerr told reporters. "I know he's had a couple of hand surgeries before, I believe, maybe on the other hand. I saw him holding it and instantly was worried.

"[I] just got the word after walking off the floor. I feel terrible for Chris, and obviously, guys will step up and be ready to play. We've got to hold down the fort without him."

Stephen Curry acknowledged he and his team-mates will have to step up in Paul's absence, saying: "Especially over the last two years or so, I'm able to adjust to whatever is out there. I know that's another challenge now going back to another different lineup with CP out.

"He's such a cerebral player. He knows how to manage the game, getting us organised. CP is a great addition to that flow.

"I've got to be able to make the adjustments, Klay's [Thompson] got to do the same, for us to continue to be aggressive [without Paul]."

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was reinstated by the NBA from his suspension on Saturday after he missed 12 games following an incident with Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic on Dec. 12.

The league said Green “demonstrated his commitment to conforming his conduct to standards of NBA players” during his suspension, which began Dec. 14. He has met with a counselor as well as had multiple joint meetings with representatives of the league, the Warriors and the National Basketball Players Association.

Those meetings, the league added, will continue throughout the season.

While Green is eligible to return to the lineup on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors, he is expected to need approximately a week to ramp up for a return to the court.

Green was suspended for the fifth time in his career earlier this season for putting Minnesota center Rudy Gobert in a headlock during an In-Season Tournament matchup.

Green was given a five-game suspension as the NBA cited past infractions in relation to the punishment.

The 12-year veteran is averaging 9.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 15 games this season.

 

Nikola Jokic always knew he was going to make the dramatic buzzer-beating three-pointer which guided the Denver Nuggets to a stunning win over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

The Warriors were on the verge of beating the Nuggets for the first time in nearly two years at Chase Center, only for the defending NBA champions to finish with a 25-4 run for a 130-127 win.

The clinching shot came from Jokic with just 3.6 seconds remaining, the two-time MVP hitting an improbable three-pointer from just inside half-court, which sailed over the outstretched arms of Warriors centre Kevon Looney and in.

Jokic had tied the game on a short jumper just 23 seconds earlier, and he finished with 34 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Speaking about his winner after the game, Jokic said: "That was the last option with that play. I just took a shot. I think those shots are the easiest shots to take. You don't have any other options. 

"So actually, when I felt it, I thought, 'oh, I'm going to bank this.' You can see the flight of the ball, and I just knew I was going to bank it."

Denver's win was their eighth in nine games, lifting them to 25-11 and inflicting the Warriors' third loss in the space of four games.

Jokic's game-winning shot came after Jamal Murray made a steal from Stephen Curry with just four seconds on the clock, leading Denver coach Michael Malone to hail his team for their ability to compete physically. 

"They came out in the third quarter very aggressive, and we didn't match that. They had us on our heels," Malone said.

"I said, 'okay, enough is enough. Our backs are against the ball. We have to go now,' and then we became the aggressor. 

"We became the team getting stops, pushing, attacking, we became more physical.

"The most aggressive team is going to win. I felt like when the game was on the line, we were the more aggressive team."

Regarding Jokic's buzzer beater, Malone said the credit belonged entirely to the 2021 and 2022 MVP, adding: "I wish I could tell you [that's how I drew it up]. But that's just a great player making a great play.

"Nikola lives for those moments. It's great and joyful to watch a player of his talent go out there and make the plays that he makes."

The Golden State Warriors were on the verge of beating the Denver Nuggets for the first time in nearly two years.

Nikola Jokic had other ideas.

Jokic hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Nuggets to a 130-127 win over the Warriors on Thursday to cap an 18-point, fourth-quarter comeback.

Jokic's improbable 3 came from just inside of half-court and over the outstretched arms of Warriors centre Kevon Looney.

Jokic, who had just tied the game with 26 seconds left on a short jumper, finished with 34 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Aaron Gordon sparked Denver's furious rally, scoring 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, as the defending champions won for the eighth time in nine games.

The Nuggets (25-11) also extended their winning streak over the Warriors to six games dating to a loss in the 2022 play-offs.

Stephen Curry led Golden State with 30 points but also committed a costly turnover late, with Jamal Murray stealing the ball from him with four seconds remaining to set up Jokic's winner.

The Warriors (16-18) lost for the third time in four games following a five-game winning streak.

Antetokounmpo powers Bucks past Wembanyama, Spurs

Victor Wembanyama sent the San Antonio Spurs fans into a frenzy with a huge 3-pointer.

Giannis Antetokounmpo promptly silenced the crowd with a 3-point play of his own.

Antetokounmpo scored 44 points and the Milwaukee Bucks pulled out a 125-121 win at San Antonio to snap a two-game losing streak.

The first NBA meeting between Antetokounmpo and Wembanyama was a back-and-forth affair in which neither team led by more five points in the final quarter.

Wembanyama tied the game at 121 on a 3-pointer with 1:09 remaining, but the Bucks responded on their next trip down the court, as Antetokounmpo put Milwaukee ahead on a driving dunk and added a free throw after being fouled.

Antetokounmpo also had 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Bucks (25-10), who got back in the win column after being swept in a home-and-home series with the Indiana Pacers.

Damian Lillard scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and chipped in 10 assists.

Wembanyama blocked Lillard's layup attempt right before his 3-pointer, and later blocked an attempted dunk by Antetokounmpo with less than 30 seconds remaining. But on the Spurs' next possession, Tre Jones missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

Wembanyama finished with 27 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, while Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 34 points.

The Spurs (5-29) lost their fourth in a row and for the ninth time in the last 10 games.

The Golden State Warriors were on the verge of beating the Denver Nuggets for the first time in nearly two years.

Nikola Jokic had other ideas.

Jokic hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Nuggets to a 130-127 win over the Warriors on Thursday to cap an 18-point, fourth-quarter comeback.

Jokic's improbable 3 came from just inside of half-court and over the outstretched arms of Warriors centre Kevon Looney.

Jokic, who had just tied the game with 26 second left on a short jumper, finished with 34 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Aaron Gordon sparked Denver's furious rally, scoring 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, as the defending champions won for the eighth time in nine games.

The Nuggets (25-11) also extended their winning streak over the Warriors to six games dating to a loss in the 2022 play-offs.

Stephen Curry led Golden State with 30 points but also committed a costly turnover late, with Jamal Murray stealing the ball from him with four seconds remaining to set up Jokic's winner.

The Warriors (16-18) lost for the third time in four games following a five-game winning streak.

Antetokounmpo powers Bucks past Wembanyama, Spurs

Victor Wembanyama sent the San Antonio Spurs fans into a frenzy with a huge 3-pointer.

Giannis Antetokounmpo promptly silenced the crowd with a 3-point play of his own.

Antetokounmpo scored 44 points and the Milwaukee Bucks pulled out a 125-121 win at San Antonio to snap a two-game losing streak.

The first NBA meeting between Antetokounmpo and Wembanyama was a back-and-forth affair in which neither team led by more five points in the final quarter.

Wembanyama tied the game at 121 on a 3-pointer with 1:09 remaining, but the Bucks responded on their next trip down the court, as Antetokounmpo put Milwaukee ahead on a driving dunk and added a free throw after being fouled.

Antetokounmpo also had 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Bucks (25-10), who got back in the win column after being swept in a home-and-home series with the Indiana Pacers.

Damian Lillard scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and chipped in 10 assists.

Wembanyama blocked Lillard's layup attempt right before his 3-pointer, and later blocked an attempted dunk by Antetokounmpo with less than 30 seconds remaining. But on the Spurs next possession, Tre Jones missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

Wembanyama finished with 27 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, while Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 34 points.

The Spurs (5-29) lost their fourth in a row and for the ninth time in the last 10 games.

Stephen Curry scored 36 points in an impressive display as the Golden State Warriors snapped a three-game losing streak with a 121-115 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Coach Steve Kerr praised Curry for an "amazing" performance on Tuesday as Golden State improved to 16-17 with a much-needed home win.

The Warriors had lost consecutive games to the Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks until Curry intervened with a big night which included some crucial plays in the fourth quarter.

Curry also had six assists and four steals, while Jonathan Kuminga scored 19 points and Klay Thompson added 15 for the Warriors.

"Steph was amazing," said Kerr. "But Steph is always amazing. Even when he doesn't score 36 points.

"Just the attention he draws defensively, what he does to an opposing defense, the way he opens up the floor, he's a remarkable player.

"He really got himself going on a night when we needed it."

The Warriors will host the Nuggets on Thursday as their seven-game homestand continues, with Chris Paul relieved to get back to winning ways ahead of that clash with the defending NBA champions.

"It was huge, we have been struggling to get wins," said Paul.

"It is hard to win in this league. That team [Orlando] is a young team, well coached. They've been playing hard all season long, so this was a good win for us."

The Magic are on the road against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday and are fifth in the Eastern Conference after the loss to Golden State.

Paolo Banchero had 27 points and 12 rebounds with Franz Wagner adding 25 points, but Orlando fell to 19-14 on the season and 7-10 in road games.

"They have an elite shot maker and Hall of Fame player in Steph Curry – that is what we got," said coach Jamahl Mosley.

Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr both admitted the Golden State Warriors are still searching for an identity after they were beaten by a Luka Doncic-inspired Dallas Mavericks team on Saturday.

The Warriors sit a disappointing 11th in the Western Conference with a 15-17 record after losing their third straight game, with Curry's 25-point haul not enough to prevent a 132-122 defeat.

Doncic was the catalyst for Dallas upon his return to the fold after sitting out Thursday's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves due to injury, finishing with 39 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

Golden State have seen their last two losses arrive at Chase Center, having also gone down to a Miami Heat team deprived of Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin two days earlier.

While injuries and suspensions – most notably for forward Draymond Green – have hampered the Warriors' attempts to find consistency this season, Curry knows they need to do so quickly.

"We've experimented a lot, some for forced reasons, sometimes just us searching for an identity," Curry said. "We haven't found it collectively. 

"It's frustrating, for sure, 32 games in. Any team that is a seriously competitive contender, a good team, can usually answer that question. We have to get to that point before it's too late."

Coach Kerr agreed with that assessment, saying: "We haven't found that grit that every good team needs, where you pull together and you just play for the group. We are not there yet, and that's a problem. 

"We have great guys, but until every team connects in a way that is solely dedicated to winning each game, then we are going to be stuck in this place."

The Warriors were the latest team to fail to contain Doncic, who has scored at least 39 points in his last four games, only failing to reach 30 once in 13 outings in December – when he managed 28 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

He is just the second player in NBA history to average at least 35 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists per game across a calendar month (minimum 10 games played), after Oscar Robertson did so for the Cincinnati Royals in December 1960.

While Kerr was disappointed with the Warriors' defensive efforts, he acknowledged they had simply failed to live with one of the foremost contenders for MVP honours.

"We tried to mix it up on him," Kerr said. "We single-covered him, we switched, we hit him. We tried a lot of different things, but he is a brilliant player and he had a phenomenal game. 

"We weren't communicating. We had some good stretches when we were getting stops, and then our communication broke down."

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr described officiating standards as "disgusting" after Nikola Jokic made 18 free throws in the Denver Nuggets' Christmas-Day win over his team.

Jokic made all 18 of his free throw attempts as the Nuggets posted their fifth successive win, which represented a career-high tally as he finished with 26 points in his team's 120-114 success.

Ten of those came in the third quarter as Jokic drew foul after foul from the Golden State defense, prompting Kerr to lash out at what he sees as a league-wide problem.

"I have a problem with how we are legislating the defense out of the game," Kerr said after the Warriors slipped to 15-15.

"We are enabling players to B.S. their way to the foul line. If I were a fan, I wouldn't have wanted to watch the second half of that game. It was disgusting. 

"It was just baiting refs into calls, but the refs have to make those calls. The players are really smart in this league. 

"For the last decade, they've gotten smarter and smarter. We have enabled the players, and they are taking full advantage. It's a parade to the free throw line, and it's disgusting to watch."

Four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry, who was held to 18 points, echoed Kerr's sentiments as he said: "It does cater to the guys who can sell calls. 

"There is physicality, but it's tough because it is inconsistent, at times, on either side.

"On a night like tonight, when you feel there is physicality on one side and then ticky-tack on the other, it changes the complexity of the game. 

"I'm not saying we don't foul, but consistency is key when understanding how you can defend."

Jokic, though, denied actively trying to sell calls and said aggression became key to his performance after a slow start.

"I was missing shots, so I was just trying to be aggressive in another way, maybe play a little more physical" Jokic told ESPN.

"It just happened to be that kind of night. This is the most I've ever had."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.