Inside Report: Spurs-Mavericks recap — Spurs' Big Three too much for turnover-prone Mavs
Inside Report: Spurs-Mavericks recap — Spurs' Big Three too much for turnover-prone Mavs
Earl K. Sneed recaps the action from the American Airlines Center, where the Mavericks' miscues and giveaways were too much to overcome as they fell for a third time this season to the Spurs.
DALLAS — Although Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle would be the first to admit that few statements are made in the regular season, he did not hide his feelings in regard to Friday night perhaps being the perfect opportunity for his team to send a resounding message to the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs — who were coming off a season-worst 30-point loss in Miami — as well as the rest of the league for that matter.
Despite sitting just 6 1/2 games behind the Spurs in the Southwest Division coming into the night, Carlisle’s confidence was not shaken heading into the Mavericks’ last regular-season shot at the in-state rival, believing that with a signature win to tip off a three-game homestand the Dallas team could begin to close the gap as the playoffs approach.
“I like that we’re being tested right now,” Carlisle simply said.
But the Mavericks (48-21) weren’t able to pass their test on Friday night, and the Spurs were the team sending the message, as the Dallas squad fell 97-91 to drop the season series 3-1 to the divisional rival in front of a playoff-intense crowd at the American Airlines Center.
“This one we wanted to win it and it didn’t happen for us. We’ve got to stay positive and we’ve got to find our rhythm and obviously that’s not happening right now,” sixth man Jason Terry said after the Mavs dropped their fifth game in the last eight outings.
Fortunately for the Mavericks they were nearly at full strength for the matchup, as backup center Brendan Haywood returned from a two-game absence with lower back stiffness, while small forward Peja Stojakovic missed his sixth straight game with a stiff neck. With Stojakovic still sidelined the revolving door at the starting 3 spot would continue, with swingman DeShawn Stevenson sliding into the first unit after Shawn Marion and Corey Brewer had also filled the role.
Still, the momentum would quickly switch back to the league-leading Spurs (55-13) in the opening quarter, after coach Gregg Popovich’s 20-second timeout 42 seconds into the game quieted Dirk Nowitzki’s initial bucket and led to a 10-0 spurt for San Antonio. Spurs point guard Tony Parker and big man Tim Duncan would then quickly lift the visiting team to a double-digit lead, with free-agent rookie Gary Neal also finding the range early on. Behind the trio, the Spurs would take a 30-20 edge after 12 minutes of play despite a quick start for Nowitzki.
“It was a tough one there. We were just a step slower. Give them a lot of credit, they sat on a loss for three days and came out swinging,” Nowitzki said of the opening quarter.
Things would get worse before they got better for the Mavericks early in the second quarter, falling behind by as much as 18. But the Dallas defense would scramble to take the Spurs out of their rhythm, creating transition offense at the other end after racking up stops.
Utilizing a three-guard lineup of Jason Kidd, Terry and J.J. Barea, the Mavs would sprint to a 12-2 run. Parker and crew would respond, however, while the Mavericks’ attack would suffer when center Tyson Chandler picked up his third foul of the half. But Marion would rally his troops, lifting the Mavericks to an 11-2 run to end the half down just 50-45.
Led by Marion’s 13 first-half points on 6-of-8 shooting in a reserve role, the Mavericks held a 27-11 advantage in bench scoring at the break, while also shooting 50 percent as a team compared to the Spurs’ 43.5 percent at the other end. Still, behind Parker’s 16 points and Manu Ginobili’s additional 12, the Spurs continued to hold the edge on the scoreboard.
Perhaps it was a bad omen for the Mavericks when it was announced that Marion’s playing status for the second half was doubtful after he suffered an apparent right wrist injury late in the second quarter. He would not return the rest of the way, although X-rays would come back negative after the game, rendering him day-to-day.
“He’s one of our best players and he had a great game going,” Carlisle said of Marion’s untimely injury. “He was one of the main reasons we were able to get some momentum going into the halftime. It was a freak play, where his wrist got knocked into Roddy’s arm or something like that … It was bothering him too much to come back, so that was a big loss.”
“It was tremendous because he was 6-of-8 from the field, he was causing matchup problems and he was in the paint all night long laying the ball up. He’s our best defender, so it had an impact on the game,” Terry added.
With Marion sidelined the offensive would flow through second-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois, who would gladly oblige by raining in shots from the perimeter to give the Mavs a scoring lift. Nowitzki would then offer a helping hand, tying the game at 60-all midway through the third quarter. The Spurs, however, would immediately respond with a 9-0 run to once again keep the Mavs at bay. San Antonio would then take a 73-66 advantage into the final period.
It would take just 34 seconds into the fourth quarter for Chandler to pick up his fifth foul. And as the Mavericks’ turnovers continued to mount, the Spurs were able to make the hustle plays to remain in front. Using another three-guard lineup — Beaubois, Terry and Barea — Carlisle tried to speed up the flow of the game. And it would be Terry who would end a drought after the teams went nearly the first four minutes of the period without a score, as the star reserve’s personal 5-0 run brought the Mavs to within two, 73-71, with 7:26 left while the Spurs missed 13 straight shot attempts.
“There was a stretch there in the fourth quarter where they didn’t score and neither did we,” Terry explained.
But Neal would again step in and provide a spark for the Spurs, nailing a corner 3-pointer to extend his team’s lead. Still, the Mavs refused to go away yet again, reaching the penalty with 6:29 remaining. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Ginobili and Parker — his a bank-in off the glass — would then put the Mavs in another hole, one they wouldn’t climb out of, leading to Ginobili’s and-1 finish in the lane to draw the sixth and final foul off the night on Chandler with 3:32 left.
“The guys battled in the second half like crazy, and we just couldn’t get there,” Carlisle said. “They made plays. They went on a run and we battled back again. We did secure a rebound, but Ginobili made a steal and Neal hit the three in the corner. That was an enormous play. Then Parker banks in a three, and that was tough. We had just started to get a little momentum, but look, there are no excuses.”
It would all culminate in a 13-2 run by the Spurs to put the Mavs at a 91-77 disadvantage. But the Mavericks would continue to fight, with Terry nailing a late three to pull the Dallas team to within four inside the final minute. The Spurs would finish the game off at the foul line, however, to send the Mavs off their home floor with a third defeat in this season’s sibling rivalry.
Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting, but he was the only starter in double figures. Off the bench, Terry finished with 19 points (14 in the fourth) on 5-of-14 from the floor and 3-of-6 from 3-point range, while Barea and Marion concluded the night with 13 points apiece.
Parker was the high-point man with 33 points, while Ginobili’s 25 and Duncan’s 22 gave the Spurs just three players in double figures.
“That’s why they’ve won championship rings,” Kidd said of the Spurs’ Big Three. “When you get those three going it’s hard to stop. Parker, Ginobili and Duncan were going tonight.”
Albeit in a loss, the Mavericks outshot the Spurs, 49 percent to 43 percent, in addition to a 41-36 Dallas edge in rebounding. But the Spurs scored 25 points off 19 Dallas turnovers, while the Mavericks managed just 12 points at the other end after 13 San Antonio giveaways.
“This has been the best team in basketball all year, because they’re so solid. You can’t expect to turn it over 19 times for 25 points and be in a position to win. It’s just too difficult,” Carlisle said.
“We had too many careless turnovers,” Terry added. “I got stripped two or three times and you’ve got to be stronger with the ball. I take responsibility for that, because we had 19 and I had four of them, so especially playing against them because they scrap and claw for the ball and you have to be stronger with the ball.”
The Mavericks will now take Saturday to look at film of Friday night’s loss and to also study up on the Golden State Warriors, the squad that next enters the American Airlines Center Sunday evening. The Mavericks lead the season series with the Warriors 2-0, including Wednesday night’s 112-106 victory in ORACLE Arena when the Dallas team overcame an 18-point first-half deficit.
“This loss definitely hurts, but we’ve got to come to practice and work hard tomorrow,” Terry proclaimed. “Then Golden State is another opportunity to get this rhythm back and get that good vibe back and run off six or seven games in a row.”
Note: The Mavericks welcome the Warriors to Big D for a second time this season looking to move to 3-0 in the season series on Sunday. The matchup will tip off at 6:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Great seats are still available and tickets can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
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