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3 things from the Mavericks’ narrow 96-91 loss to the Spurs

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Dallas played San Antonio until the final possession, but it still wasn’t enough for a win.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

You can’t complain about Seth Curry’s shot — a three-pointer from the left wing as he curled around a screen. The shot would have tied the game at 94, giving the Mavericks a chance to send it to overtime (where the team is 1-1 this season! .500!). But the shot clanked off the back iron despite Curry’s hot shooting all night, and the Mavericks fell to 2-11 on the year.

The Mavericks were without — hang on, lemme take a breath here — Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, J.J. Barea, Devin Harris and Andrew Bogut for Monday’s game, while the Spurs sat LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker. Jeez. It did feel a little like a scrimmage, or maybe a preseason matchup. But these Mavericks fought hard, pushed the Spurs until the end, and fell on a last-second shot.

Gregg Popovich was pissed with his team’s effort.

"That was a pathetic performance on the part of the Spurs. You know, they had some guys out, we had some guys out, but they had a lot more out than we did. I thought we showed a lack of humility, a lack of respect for the opponent, a very pathetic performance at both ends of the court, both in execution and in grunt, in fiber, in desire. It was an awful performance. Oh, and they deserved to win the basketball game. I forgot to say that."

Sadly, there’s some truth there. Even resting a couple players, the Spurs didn’t play their best basketball, and that’s probably why the Mavericks even had a chance. Ultimately, Kawhi Leonard was just so damn good.

Here’s some things we learned.

The patchwork starting five acquitted themselves well

Four of the starting five had a positive plus-minus, and they all played well. Harrison Barnes put together a 20-point night despite the Spurs keying in him defensively. Salah Mejri picked up too many fouls, but was the best center on the court for either side. Wesley Matthews is slowly but surely hitting down a few more shots, ending up with 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting and three triples. And Seth Curry led the team in scoring with 23 on 9-of-16 shooting and five longballs, tying the career high he set against the Lakers two weeks ago.

Justin Anderson is a mess right now

The start of the season has been miserable for Anderson, and things didn’t get much better on Monday. The quick decision making is completely gone from his game — it feels like every time he touches it, he’s hanging onto it for at least three or four seconds. The one that stands out to me most is a possession in the second half where he caught it inside the three-point line, backed up outside of it, tried to pump fake David Lee off the ground and ended up committing a turnover with the shot clock running down.

Anderson is still making a play or two per game that makes your head spin. There was one pass into the post from San Antonio that Anderson just straight up snatched out of the air like it was nothing, which is the type of plays his athleticism allows him to make. But he has to get the fundamentals down or it’s not going to happen for him.

The Mavericks may not win another game this month

There’s four left — the Clippers, the Cavaliers, the Pelicans and the Spurs again.

They’ll lose the first two. New Orleans has Jrue Holiday back and is playing much better with him in the roster — his drive-and-kick game was crucial for the team, and they’re shooting threes much better since he’s been back. And then there’s the Spurs again, who Popovich tore up for only winning by five and probably won’t rest Aldridge and Parker this time around.

2-15? 3-14? At some point, the actual record stops mattering.