Recap: Streaking Spurs sink Mavs to sixth straight loss
Earl K. Sneed recaps the Dallas Mavericks' home loss to the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, as the Mavs fell to a sixth straight defeat.
Recap: Spurs 111 at Mavericks 86
Streaking Spurs sink Mavs to sixth straight loss
Looking to avenge a season-worst 129-91 defeat in San Antonio on Dec. 23, Carlisle and his team stepped onto their home hardwood at the American Airlines Center with that message in mind. But the Mavericks could not collectively get even with the Southwest Division-leading Spurs, who snatched their fifth consecutive win overall, after also having the season debut of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki spoiled just one week prior.
And with Nowitzki just 3-for-9 for eight points in his fourth outing of the season, the Mavericks (12-19) would again fall to a lopsided loss to their cross-state rival, 111-86, as Carlisle was left scratching his head and taking responsibility for his team’s performance.
“We just didn’t get it done and we haven’t gotten it done in a pretty good significant set of games now,” Carlisle confessed. “It starts with me and it goes right down the line. You know, there’s no excuses. We have simply got to dig in harder and we all have got to do a better job.”
“We have to have a little more energy and a little more fight in us,” veteran big man Elton Brand added. “Just doing things hard. You know, we can’t take things for granted. … You’ve got to run through everything hard. With everything said, [Carlisle] is the leader but it’s not his fault. We were out there, we need to get this done and we need to find a way. He’s doing his best trying to put guys together, trying to put a team out there and we just have to compete. We just have to find it within. It’s our locker room, it’s us. We’ve have the talent, we just have to bring it out of each other. We have to police it. We have to have energy and competitiveness.”
Looking for a quick spark and making a change to the starting lineup for a 14th time this season, Carlisle inserted eight-time All-Star Vince Carter into the first unit at small forward alongside four-time All-Star Shawn Marion and center Chris Kaman on the front line, in addition to point guard Darren Collison and leading scorer O.J. Mayo in the backcourt.
But even with Carter in the starting lineup for the first time this season the Mavs could do little to avoid falling into an early double-digit hole, after the Spurs (24-8) quickly jumped out a 14-2 advantage. Nowitzki then entered the game with 5:52 left in the opening period, but it would be Brand’s bench score that pulled the Mavs within five, 27-22, entering the second quarter.
“We have to compete more,” Brand continued. “We started the game down 13 points and then fought to make it close, played hard and it takes too much out of you. We need to get off to better starts, then make it a game and see what we can do.”
Brand’s hot shooting continued to keep the Mavs within an arm’s reach as the second stanza got underway, bringing his team to within three. But the Spurs countered with big men Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan inside at the other end, regaining a wide edge before Mayo began to assert himself for the Mavs.
And despite an emphatic left-handed slam from Carter near the close of the first half, the Mavs headed into the intermission down 12, 57-45.
Led by Brand’s 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting, the Mavs hung in the game despite getting outshot in the first 24 minutes of action, 50 percent to 41.3 percent. Meanwhile, the Mavericks held the Spurs’ 3-point shooters in check at the midway mark, with San Antonio hitting just three of eight attempts from behind the arc after a 20-for-30 night from long range in the first meeting.
Sticking with the same lineup that began the night, Carlisle slowly started to see the fruits of his adjustment as the Mavs again tried to muster up a rally. But the Mavs’ 11-2 spurt to get back into the game would quickly be responded to by the Spurs’ Big Three of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to take the visiting team into the final 12 minutes of play with an 82-70 controlling margin.
Matters would get worse for the Mavs in the fourth, finding themselves in a widening hole. Still, the Mavericks refused to fade away, upping the tempo with a transition feed from Collison to rookie Jae Crowder before a driving score by Nowitzki to force a San Antonio timeout with the disadvantage at 91-80 with 6:05 remaining.
But in an instant the Spurs would sit again with a massive advantage as they attempted to close the home team out, going up 103-84 with 4:05 left after Parker’s and-one score over Kaman. Carlisle then conceded by pulling his main contributors with 3:37 on the clock, before the Spurs surged to as much as a 25-point lead.
Leading the way for the Mavs in the loss was Collison, who dished out eight assists and scored 18 points on 9-for-13 from the floor to lead four players in double figures. Off the bench, Brand registered a double-double with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, while Kaman’s 13-point, nine-rebound night and Carter’s 13 points in a starting role all came in a losing cause.
Scoring 21 points on 10-of-17 from the field and dishing out nine assists, Parker led the way for the Spurs while Ginobili added 20 points off the bench and Duncan tallied up 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“As far as the Big Three, they’re great players and we didn’t do a good job with them. I mean, they made a lot of plays and they made a lot of shots,” Carlisle said. “Some of them we contested but a lot of the plays they made they were just better than us. We’ve got to compete better. That’s where it’s at.”
Hitting 8-of-19 from 3-point range compared to Dallas’ 1-of-16 from long range at the other end, the Spurs also finished the night outshooting the Mavs, 50.6 percent to 40 percent, despite losing the rebounding edge to Dallas, 46-44. The Mavs wasted a 19-2 margin in second-chance points and 42-36 advantage in points in the paint as well, committing just 11 turnovers for nine San Antonio points.
“We can’t pinpoint it right now,” Marion said. “You can look at a lot of different scenarios and situations, but at the end of the day this is very frustrating for all of us and this hurts. The good thing about tonight is we only had 11 turnovers. But the bad thing is we couldn’t get a win. When you only turn the ball over 11 times and you outrebound a team and you have more assists than a team, you usually win. But that wasn’t the case tonight.”
“We’re going to keep on working and getting better as we go. Unfortunately this is a tough stretch here,” Nowitzki said after the Mavs fell to a sixth straight playoff squad from a season ago. “You know, we had the easiest schedule in basketball in November and here lately it’s been murder. We knew that this was going to get tough eventually, and this is definitely a very, very tough stretch. We’ve got to pull together. If you lose and get frustrated more, you have to pull together and somehow pull out of it.”
The Mavericks will now hit the practice court on Monday before returning to action for the start of a two-game road trip to welcome in 2013, touching down in the nation’s capital for a battle against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. The game will air locally at 5 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest.
“This is painful. This really hurts, especially this string of games that we’re losing,” Collison said. “You know, we’re confident in every game that we can come out and win and we’re not getting the results that we want. That’s the most confusing thing to all of us.”
He added: “We can’t get too low on the lows. We can’t start to get negative from here on out. We’ve got to have some type of positives going forward from here. All we can do is look forward to the next game and try to win one and see if we can pull together a string of games from there. But we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. Continue to work, continue to get in practice and continue to keep our heads high.”