Recap: Short-handed Spurs hold off stagnant Mavs
Recap: Spurs 113 at Mavericks 107
Short-handed Spurs hold off stagnant Mavs
Traveling to Dallas minus All-Star big man Tim Duncan (sore left knee) and coach Gregg Popovich (sickness), the short-handed Spurs limped into the American Airlines Center despite riding a six-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Mavericks entered the night after a four-day break in game action, looking to carry the momentum of five wins in their previous six games. And with an opportunity to avenge two December losses to the Spurs, the Mavs looked to treat their hometown crowd to a show in a nationally-televised showdown.
But things aren’t always what they appear. And even without the services of their veteran leader and long-time coach, the Spurs continued to have the Mavericks’ number, downing the home team to a 113-107 defeat.
“It’s frustrating. It seems like they have our number and it is what it is,” four-time All-Star Shawn Marion simply said of the loss.
With Duncan back in San Antonio, coach Rick Carlisle hoped to take advantage of the Spurs’ front line right way, inserting big man Elton Brand into the first unit ahead of center Chris Kaman and giving the Mavericks (18-25) their 16th different starting lineup this season. The move immediately paid dividends as Brand rejected Spurs center Tiago Splitter on the first possession of the game.
The Spurs (35-11) then suffered a setback as All-Star point guard Tony Parker was forced into the locker room with 9:18 left in the opening period after a hard fall to the floor left him with a cut over his left eye. Still, the visiting team seized an 11-point lead midway through the first quarter as Boris Diaw caught fire from 3-point range, before taking a 27-20 advantage into the second stanza while the Mavs struggled to just 8-of-22 shooting in the quarter.
Off the Spurs’ bench, backup big man DeJuan Blair quickly moved into double figures while dominating the interior. But with Parker in the locker room and needing three stitches to close two lacerations above his left eye, his French counterpart, Rodrigue Beaubois, would give the Mavs a little life after a rejection on the defensive end led to his 3-pointer from the wing.
Parker then returned to the floor in time to help the Spurs take a 53-43 advantage into the halftime intermission as reserve guard Gary Neal and Blair handled San Antonio’s scoring responsibilities.
With Blair posting 17 points — two shy of his season-high scoring output for a game to that point — and Neal adding 13 points off the Spurs’ bench on a combined 13-of-16 shooting, San Antonio’s 47.8 percent shooting bettered Dallas’ 36.7 percent. The Spurs also held a 27-25 rebounding edge at the midway mark, hitting 4-of-11 from behind the 3-point arc compared to the Mavs’ 1-of-7 shooting from long range.
“We just seemed a step slow,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said. “They really got the ball moving there. I felt like in the first half we had some easy shots, we missed some layups and that kind of took our energy away a little bit on the defensive end, and we can’t do that obviously. If shots aren’t going offensively, we still have to get back, we have to play even harder, we have to rebound better on the other end. So, yeah, they got whatever they wanted there.”
“Especially in the first half, shots weren’t going in,” Marion added. “We were getting some great looks, and it wasn’t like they were blocking the shots. They just wouldn’t go in.”
Beginning the second half with a vintage 16-footer jumper, Nowitzki moved into double figures immediately for the Mavericks in the third quarter. But the Spurs quickly widened the gap once again as Danny Green’s 3-pointer forced Carlisle to call timeout with his team down 61-47 and 10:05 left in the third period.
“They played at a higher level than we did. We had some stretches where I thought we were doing OK. Our shotmaking early wasn’t there. That was a problem. And then the run to start the third quarter was decisive. I mean, that put us in a huge hole. I probably should have taken three timeouts during that period. I wanted to keep the game going, because I thought we needed tempo, but they just kept pouring it on and we just couldn’t overcome that,” Carlisle explained.
The Spurs then began to find the shooting touch from behind the arc, upping the lead to as much as 26 despite the best efforts of eight-time All-Star Vince Carter off the Dallas bench. The Mavs then looked up to an 88-68 disadvantage entering the final 12 minutes of play.
Starting the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer by Green, the Spurs continued to keep the Mavs at bay. But the Mavs continued to fight, getting into the penalty with 7:47 remaining and slowly chipping away at their deficit with frequent trips to the free throw line. Second-rounder Bernard James’ pair of free throws then brought the Mavs within 11, 99-88, with 4:52 remaining.
Emotions then got the better of Carlisle for arguing a basket interference call on Carter that would soon be overturned, but not before Carlisle was assessed a technical for arguing with officials. Still, the Mavs wouldn’t draw any closer than within 10 before Parker began to close the door, leading Carlisle to pull his key veterans with 1:03 left to play before late 3-pointers by Beaubois and rookie Jae Crowder were followed by a steal and score by point guard Darren Collison to complete an 11-0 Dallas run, which was ended by Nando De Colo’s free throws to conclude play.
“There in the fourth, I thought we picked up the energy a little bit. We made them turn the ball over some, pushed the ball up some, got some layups and sped the game up that way. But every time we tried to push it under 10, either Parker did something or Neal hit a shot. They always had an answer,” Nowitzki concluded.
Leading five Mavericks in double figures, Beaubois reached a new season high with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
“Just trying to be more aggressive, 'cause I haven’t been myself lately. So I just need to keep working and be very aggressive, 'cause we need everybody to step up, so I have to take it personally. … We lost the game, so I don’t really think about my game tonight,” a modest Beaubois said. “I need to watch the game and make sure for the next game I do better, because if we lost the game that means that everybody could have done better. So I just need to keep working.”
“He was terrific. To me it’s not the points, it’s the energy, the enthusiasm and the disposition, and it’s up to him. If he plays like this, he’s got a chance to secure the backup (point guard) position and he’ll challenge for the starting position,” Carlisle said of Beaubois’ night. “You know, he’s got to establish the consistency and he showed tonight what he can do. But being able to do that night after night is hard in this league and that’s his challenge.”
One day shy of his 36th birthday, Carter finished with 17 points off the bench as well. Meanwhile, Nowitzki pitched in 15 points, leading scorer O.J. Mayo added 14 points and Collison registered 13 points in the first unit.
Parker led seven Spurs in double figures with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting to go along with 10 assists, while Blair added 22 points off the bench. The Spurs also finished outshooting the Mavs on the night, 48.3 percent to 46.2 percent. The Mavs, meanwhile, ended the night with a 47-46 rebounding edge led by Brand's 13 boards, a 50-40 advantage in points in the paint, an 18-12 separation in fast-break points and 22 points off San Antonio’s 15 turnovers, giving up the same amount on their 14 giveaways.
“We can do any and everything sometimes, it seems like they get what they wanted. We were never able to take them out of things that they wanted to do and get comfortable. We had a stretch where we were looking good and getting good looks, we just couldn’t make any shots,” Marion concluded.
“They execute so well on offense and they make you pay,” Carter added. “They do a great job of exploiting however your defense plays, and we didn’t adjust well enough tonight.”
The Mavericks will now take Saturday off before returning to action Sunday evening at home against the Phoenix Suns before leaving for a four-game, eight-day road trip. The Mavs lead the season series 1-0 after a 97-94 road victory on Dec. 6. The game will air locally at 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
“Well, we’ve got to sit on this one,” Nowitzki said. “We have a day off tomorrow and hopefully get some fresh legs going on Sunday. Obviously it’s a game we need to have going on the road for four tough games. It’s a must-win, or as close as it gets in the regular season, and we need to get some momentum back rolling before we hit the road for four tough games.”