Despite being down at halftime and missing star guard Tony Parker, the Spurs took care of the Mavericks thanks to -- what else -- a barrage of three pointers. Patty Mills and Danny Green, two second round picks in the 2009 draft who barely saw the court with their original teams, combined to make 11 of 20 from downtown.
Dallas was led by Monta Ellis with 24 points(who did his best to keep his team afloat in the second half) and got an efficient night from Dirk Nowitzki, but the bugaboos for Dallas were familiar: too many wide open three point looks, and too many offensive rebounds. San Antonio also skewered the Mavs in transition, with 35 fast break points.
It was not an entirely unexpected outcome, but nevertheless it stings, as Dallas is now one game back in the loss column from Phoenix, and tied with Memphis. By the way, those are the team's final two opponents for the regular season.
To make matters even worse, Phoenix faces San Antonio tomorrow night, and if past history is any indication Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will rest a decent portion of his aging lineup.
The game began with a corner three from Danny Green, and could there have been a more fitting tone setter?
The Spurs jumped out to an 11 point lead early on, and by eight after one quarter. The second would be by far Dallas' best showing, as they started to rotate better on defense, and got 12 points on seven shots from Dirk Nowitzki. A pair of Dirk free throws broke the tie to give Dallas a slim two point lead as the teams went to the locker room.
In the third, an 11-2 run to start put San Antonio back in the lead, and as it would turn out the Spurs wouldn't trail again the rest of the game. Three Patty Mills triples(Mills, replacing the injured Tony Parker, would lead all scorers with 26 points) helped the road team go back up by double-digits. Dallas tried their best to mount a comeback, climbing to within five with under a minute left in the third, but a 7-1 run quickly dashed hopes of a third quarter turnaround, and made the score 83-72 heading into the final frame.
Dallas had one last gasp run in them, with an 8-0 run cutting the Spurs lead to six with a minute left. Alas, the Spurs had yet another answer, this time in the form of a Kawhi Leonard three to bump the lead back up to nine, which would also be the final margin.
- Good grief. The thought of Dallas making the playoffs only to face this team at least four more times...it's just depressing. San Antonio is just simply an awful matchup for the Mavs. They move the ball exceptionally well, and they rarely miss open shots. When you watch the Spurs, and notice yet another baseline drive as one of their many sharpshooters drift toward an unmolested shortercorner three attempt, it seems so simple and straightforward. Yet it works, and not just against defensively-challenged teams like Dallas, though it's certainly helpful when your opponent fails to rotate time after time.
- Though the Spurs controlled the game for much of the second half, there were a few critical plays that seemed to keep the Mavs from truly making a run at getting back in this game. With a little over eight minutes left and Dallas in the midst of a 6-0 run, Vince Carter made a nice drive only to miss a point-blank layup, and this immediately led to a Danny Green transition three. A five point swing that put the Spurs back up by 13. Later, Samuel Dalembert lost a rebound to his own face, Jose Canseco-style, which led to another San Antonio score. Three straight offensive rebounds from the Spurs in the final minute and a half all but guaranteed the final Dallas run would be too little and too late.
- Since we're talking about rebounds, the latest opponent to put up a new career-high in rebounds is Kawhi Leonard, who posted 16-16, including six offensive rebounds. Tim Duncan took a bit of a beating from the Dallas defense, but still managed 20-15.
- Monta Ellis continued his stretch of really nice fourth quarters, with 12 points this time in the final period this time around. He even managed eight straight points over a three minute stretch, during which the Mavs somehow managed to actually to see their deficit increase.
This one might hurt, but there's not much time to get over it. It's time to buckle up, Mavs fans. For Dallas, the playoffs start right now.