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3 things we learned as Mavericks fall to the Spurs, 87-94

Wes Matthews did everything he could, but Mavericks come up short.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, this is strange. Since the 2012-2013 season, the Mavericks have gone 2-15 in regular season games against the Spurs. After tonight’s win, make that 3-15. Who’s laughing now, San Antonio? Dallas is now on a two-game winning streak (!!!) and DO NOT HAVE THE WORST RECORD IN THE NBA ANYMORE!

That right there is why you don’t start writing a recap at the end of the third quarter. The Mavericks lose another. This game seemed so wrapped up when they had a 13-point lead in the third quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge looked like a normal human being, and Kawhi Leonard wasn’t THAT impressive most of the game. But no. The Mavericks found a way to lose.

Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes made back-to-back-to-back threes to get things going in the first quarter. They would go the next 5:37 being outscored 2-14. Just another seemingly-routine first quarter for the Mavericks.

The first 5:47 in the second quarter, the Mavericks would go 1-for-7 with two turnovers. They just weren’t hitting their shots. The offense looked stagnant. It was a lot of Barnes bringing the ball up, Bogut sets a screen at the top of the arc, pass to Matthews, pass to Bogut, pass to Barnes, repeat. So when they had 23 points with 5:35 left to play in the half, I wasn’t surprised. Fortunately, they were playing strong defense, holding San Antonio to a ten-point lead for most of the quarter.

And then...

Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes punched their timesheet and went to work, scoring 10 of the Mavericks’ final 16 points to end the quarter. That burst is what spurred (ha) a big second half.

The first 8:50 of the third quarter, the Mavericks won the battle, scoring 19-6; which led to them having a 13-point lead. Fast-forward to the final quarter and you’ll see Patty Mills ruin your life. Mills had 13 of his 23 points in the final quarter, hitting dagger, after dagger, after dagger.

Matthews and Barnes continue to do work

At the end of the first half, Matthews and Barnes combined for 25 of Dallas’ 40 points. The story stayed the same for the rest of the game. They finished with 43 of Dallas’ 87 points, continually hitting big shots again and again. Wes went 5-for-11 from deep. Of his last eight games, he’s shooting 48.2% from three. Keep letting it fly, Wes. No one else is.

Jonathan Gibson played the most important part of the game

Even with all of the point guards back on the court, Dallas still was left with depending on Jonathan Gibson to close the game. With Deron Williams and Devin Harris on a minute-restriction, and a late injury to Seth Curry, Carlisle had no other option than to turn to Gibson in the final four minutes. I’ve never played in an NBA game, but I can imagine it’d be tough to sit for 44 minutes and then be thrown into the game and asked to manage the court as your team fights back for a win.

Oh, and defend an incredibly hot Patty Mills. Yeah, not gonna happen. Gibson did make a three with 1:19 left in the game to bring Dallas within three. But it wasn’t enough. Clearly.

Nothing is guaranteed

Maybe I’m just infuriated that I had most of this recap finished before the game was finished. I had written all of it as if the Mavericks were going to win. They had a 13-point lead in the third quarter against what looked like a malnourished San Antonio Spurs team. The Spurs were resting Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, LaMarcus Aldridge wasn’t doing any basketball-related things, and Kawhi Leonard was off his game (DFS-curse). Everything was gucci in Dallas. Nope. The Spurs just don’t get run off the court by the team with the worst record in the NBA. Not gonna happen. Just watching the lead dwindle from 13, to 10, to 8, to 3, to a tie, and then losing by 7... it’s sad. Just when you thought Dallas could get a win - nay, an upset over an inner-state rival - it’s taken right from under your nose.