In what has become standard operating procedure, the Mavericks lose a heart-breaker to the Spurs 85-90, despite leading half way through the fourth. Tony Parker carved Dallas up with 21 points and 6 assists. Devin Harris led the Mavericks off the bench with 17 points, three rebounds and five assists.
After playing only one day game all season, the Mavericks started the game looking slow, old and sluggish. The Spurs jumped out to a 9-2 lead over the Mavericks on the back of Tony Parker penetration. Jose Calderon and Dirk Nowitzki each had a number of open looks that didn't come close to falling. Luckily for Dallas, the San Antonio offense wasn't much better with Parker the main threat. A late Devin Harris three pointer got Dallas into double digits right at the end of the quarter as the Mavericks trailed the Spurs 12-21. Dallas shot a terrible 25% from the field in a cold opening quarter.
Devin Harris took control in the opening minutes of the second quarter, getting Brandan Wright an easy flush on an alley-oop, hitting a jumper off a pick and roll, and hitting two threes. After tying the game, the lead would bounce back and forth between both squads. Monta Ellis would be responsible for a large burst of the scoring, driving to the rim and scoring, getting a steal and free throws in the resulting transition play, and leaving it off the rim in such a way as to allow an offensive rebound and put back for Shawn Marion. Dirk scored only his second bucket of the game on a great fade away over Boris Diaw. It seemed as if the Spurs would take a one point lead into half time after a top of the key three from Manu Ginobili, but Devin Harris was able to answer with a lay up with two seconds before the half expired. The Mavericks shot 66% in the quarter, taking a 44-43 lead into the half.
The third quarter saw Dallas take control briefly before the Spurs evened the game at the end of the quarter. After a terrible shooting half, Jose Calderon briefly came alive, hitting a three and a pull up after a two man game with Dirk. Jose also made a sweet dish to Samuel Dalembert who managed to convert a tough lay in. Monta Ellis then stripped the Spurs and left a great pass in transition to Shawn Marion to give Dallas a 55-52 lead. The Spurs would answer with a Tim Duncan shot attempt, where he was fouled and hit one of two free throws. Dallas and San Antonio would continue to trade punches for a bit, with Jose and Dirk scoring at one end and Manu Ginobili hitting threes and driving the lane on the other.
San Antonio had a brief scare half way through the third, when Tim Duncan went down holding his knee after knee to knee contact with Monta Ellis during a Spur pick and roll. Duncan would return, but played the remainder of the period without him. Dallas held on to a four point lead for most of the final minutes of the third, getting break after break, before a pair of Manu free throws and a Tiago Splitter put-back tied the game at 65-65 heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter saw Dallas build up a 10 point lead and then lose it in the most Maverickian fashion yet. Brandan Wright started the period breaking up an oop on one end and converting a pick and roll on the other. Patty Mills would answer with a jump shot. Dirk scored on a great move on a post up over Diaw on the next possession. Jae Crowder made a brilliant play on the ball during the next Spur possession and the fast break resulted in a Vince Carter lay up. After exchanging buckets for a few possessions, Jae Crowder hit a huge corner three off of a Vince Carter drive. He then stole the ball from San Antonio which lead to an "and-one" lay up for Brandan Wright, who converted the free throw to give Dallas an 81-71 lead with 7:45 left in the final quarter.
Who knew that Dallas would fail to convert a meaningful shot over the remainder of the game. San Antonio buckled down, with Tim Duncan getting two fantastic post shots to fall, cutting the lead to six. Dirk missed a wide open three but the Spurs were unable to convert the next possession. At around the 6:15 mark the TNT annoucing crew mentioned that Dallas had not committed a turnover in 24-plus minutes of game action. 14 seconds later Tony Parker would snag a sloppy pick and roll pass from Harris to Wright which lead to Kawhi Leonard free throws. Dirk was stripped by Leonard on the next possession leading to a Tim Duncan lay up. After an atrocious Monta Ellis pull up rimmed out hard, Tiago Splitter tied the game on a dive cut where Devin Harris and Dirk Nowitzki looked baffled as to how to guard Tony Parker.
After a Rick Carlisle timeout to try to stem the bleeding, Dallas would continue to miss open shots, while Tony Parker scored yet again on a lay up at the rim to give San Antonio the lead with 3:25 remaining. Parker would essentially ice the game on a pull up jumper at the 2:45 mark. During this time Dirk and Vince Carter each missed two open looks each. Though Dallas would get a number of chances to make the game close, Brandan Wright hit only 2 of 4 free throws down the stretch, while Devin Harris missed a corner three and Monta Ellis could not get a shot to fall at the rim. The Spurs continued to run their offense, resulting in free throws to push them over the finish line. Devin Harris made a meaningless lay up as time expired. San Antonio won game one, 90-85
- That was the game Dallas had a chance to steal. San Antonio shot the ball nearly as badly as Dallas did and yet the Mavericks could not sneak away with a win.
- Devin Harris, he of the 30% field goal, will not have another game like that. Insanely wasteful on the part of Dallas.
- Jose Calderon, unless he is hitting open looks, is functionally useless in this series. He can't keep up. Devin should probably start if the Mavericks want to keep this interesting.
- Dirk was really atrocious. He missed shots he makes most of the time. That missed three at the start of the late Spurs run really hurts. I hope he bounces back but the fact is he's played far too many minutes during this late season stretch. Those 42 minutes are going to hurt for the remainder of the series. A real back up for Dirk has to be a main off-season focus for the Mavericks.
- Hopefully, DeJuan Blair will not play another minute this series. It's a coaching decision for Blair to play behind Tim Duncan. Duncan is the BEST back to the basket player of this generation and one of the best ever. Having a 6'7" guy behind him is really a bad move. Wright's taller and did a reasonable job.
- Monta Ellis was a non-factor. That can't happen.
- This is a gut punch loss, but it needs to be said: great game from Jae Crowder. I mean it.
We'll have more coverage as the day wears on. Sound off in the comments below.