DALLAS – As much as he admires the way the Golden State Warriors play basketball, Rick Carlisle is not in the business of collecting moral victories.
Certainly not at this juncture of the season with his Dallas Mavericks fighting for their playoff lives.
Another match got lit to the Mavs’ playoff hopes Friday night when they got burned by the Warriors, 130-112, at American Airlines Center. It was the Mavs’ seventh loss in the last eight games and dropped their record to an ugly 34-35.
But Carlisle views his team as very close to being way better than their record indicate.
"Look, we can play with anybody,’’ Carlisle said. "We just, a few days ago, beat the (Charlotte) team with the longest winning streak in the league.
"We’re in a parity league, and so the bottom line is each night it’s tipping by fractions. When you play a team as good as Golden State you’ve got to tip it by more than fractions, and we didn’t do it good enough.’’
Not with the Warriors shooting 22-of-38 from 3-point range and 50.5 percent overall from the field.
"We tried,’’ Carlisle said. "But we just couldn’t do it."
The Mavs couldn’t do it, and neither have most teams in the NBA. That’s because the Warriors are playing a different brand of basketball than anybody else.
With Friday’s win, the Warriors are a gaudy 62-6. It’s the fastest to 62 wins that any team has traveled in NBA history.
And the Warriors are two wins ahead of the pace the 72-win Chicago Bulls set during the 1995-’96 season. But Golden State needed a 32-15 game-finishing kick to knock off the Mavs, who lost forward Chandler Parsons for good in the third quarter with a sore right hamstring.
On the loss of Parsons, Carlisle said: "It takes away one of our main weapons and it takes way not only a guy that has a lot of skill and can attack, but he’s one of our rebounders, one of our defenders, one of our playmakers, so that was a hit.
"Other guys stepped forward and played their butts off, but we just couldn’t quite get there. (It’s disappointing, but we’ve got to keep moving forward.’’
Wesley Matthews also gave the Mavs a scare when he went down in a heap, clutching his right knee. But following a timeout, Matthews actually stayed in the game, display the horrific way his incident looked on the replay on the overhead Jumbotron.
"I am walking and its fine,’’ Matthews said. "Had I rolled over and seen the replay I may have been a little more nervous.
"But I am thankful about the way my team fought tonight, and if we play like that for the remaining 13 games we will beat 80 percent of the teams.’’
Despite the loss, the No. 8-seeded Mavs remain in position to grab the Western Conference’s No. 6 seed, which is currently held by the Portland Trail Blazers (36-34). Also, Houston is seeded seventh with a 35-34.
But with the brutal remaining games on the Mavs’ schedule, they must be more wary on what’s going on behind them, since ninth-seeded Utah (33-35) is only half-a-game behind Dallas for the final playoff spot.
The Mavs will now play consecutive games against the Blazers – one at AAC on Sunday at 3 p.m. and one in Portland on Wednesday – before playing the Warriors again next Friday night in Oakland.
What happened to the Mavs on Friday was they couldn’t handle all the firepower the Warriors tossed in their direction.
Klay Thompson was 10-of-15 from 3-point range and finished with 39 points and six rebounds for Golden State, Stephen Curry was one rebound shy of a triple-double as he collected 31 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Also, Harrison Barnes scored 20 points and Draymond Green added 15 points and eight assists.
The Mavs started their three-guard offense with Raymond Felton replacing center Zaza Pachulia. It worked as Felton had 13 points and six assists, and the Mavs actually led 20-12.
But the Warriors bounced back and took a 42-36 lead after the first quarter and a 73-67 lead at the half. It’s the most points the Mavs have allowed in any quarter and in any half this season.
Dirk Nowitzki (24 points, nine rebounds), David Lee (16 points, 16 rebounds) and J. J. Barea (16 points, seven assists) helped keep the Mavs in the game.
But with the Warriors shooting lights-out from long distance, including a bank shot 3-pointer by Curry from the right corner with Nowitzki in his face, the Mavs had to figure this wasn’t going to be their night.
"When Curry hit the one that hit the side of the backboard and went in (from) the right corner, you got to keep fighting through that stuff, and I thought our guys did,’’ Carlisle said. "We just didn’t quite have enough in the tank to get over the hump.
"No, I don’t call it a moral victory. It’s a loss where we played with great effort.’’
But the "great effort’’ by the Mavs just wasn’t good enough to beat a Warriors’ team that’s playing the greatest basketball after 68 games in NBA history.
"We needed to make a few more shots at key times,’’ Carlisle said. "We needed to get a little luckier with them missing a few."
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com