The Spurs opened up a quick 15-5 lead with Danny Green providing three triples in the first five minutes of the game. The ball movement looked crisp and the Spurs were back after going missing in the Mexico City Fire make-up game. A minute of game time passed before Tim Duncan went down clutching his right knee. The next several minutes are a blur to me. I think I forgot to breathe. I recall seeing a replay that looked pretty bad and Timmy going straight into the locker room.
Spending the next five or ten minutes fearing the worst and dreading the wait to find out the results of the MRI I assumed Duncan would be getting on Friday morning wasn't very much fun at all. Then Tim made his way back to the bench. That old knee held up. The team and its fans were spared what would have been a cruel play from the basketball gods. Timmy checked back in the game shortly after, and the sight of the veteran big man on the floor must have caused tens of thousands of people to let out a collective sigh of relief. All was okay.
The rest of the first quarter was an afterthought after that scare. Danny contributed nine and Kawhi Leonard chipped in eight as the Spurs finished the first quarter up 30-22 over Dallas.
The second quarter saw runs from both teams. The Mavericks came out hot and the Spurs offense that had been humming stalled. Five minutes into the quarter the Mavs took a 38-32 lead after a 14-2 run. Then it was the Spurs' turn, well, it was Patty and Kawhi's turn. They were the best players for the Spurs on Thursday, though Tim also played a heck of a game.
Kawhi found Patty Mills in the corner for three with a nice drive-and-dish. Whi followed that by securing a defensive board and then taking it all the way back down for an and-one. Kawhi then poked the ball out of bounds twice on the next Dallas possession before collecting another rebound after Shawn Marion missed a jumper. Patty Mills really started to heat up and earned a trip to the line before knocking down a pull-up three in transition after Monta Ellis missed his jumper. In all it was an 11-0 run from Patty and Whi and the Spurs held a 43-38 lead.
Dirk Nowitzki, the Seven Foot Schnitzel, responded with a couple buckets to end the dry spell for Dallas. Following a Manu Ginobili turnover Brandon Wright threw down one of several high-flying dunks he had in this one. The teams traded a couple buckets before the Mavs finished the half on a mini 5-1 run. The Mavericks won the quarter 29-19 and the Spurs trailed 49-51 heading into the half.
The Spurs started the second half on a mission. Kawhi cleaned up a failed alley-oop attempt from Dallas and Timmy hit an 18-footer on the other end. Tim followed that with a move through the lane and a bucket. Kawhi, Danny, and Patty also contributed as the Spurs took a 63-55 lead four minutes into the third quarter. The rest of the quarter was fairly even and the Spurs, who are now 51-1 when taking a lead into the deciding period, enjoyed a 83-72 lead at the end of it.
The good guys put up five unanswered to start the fourth and with a sixteen point lead the team had a firm grip on the game. Dallas didn't quit and they cut the lead to ten, hanging around there for much of the quarter, before the Spurs pushed it up to 14 after Tiago Splitter got a lefty hook to rattle in. With just three minutes left in the contest this game looked over, but Devin Harris hit a three and Jose Calderon hit a two and a three as the Mavs cut the lead to six at 104-98 with 1:16 left. Kawhi drained a triple to end the threat and Tim Duncan pulled down the rebound after a Harris miss to effectively end the game.
It was great to see the team play with intensity in this one after that horrible performance in Minnesota. The Spurs pick up their 61st win and now need just one win or an Oklahoma City loss to clinch the overall one-seed and homecourt advantage throughout the second season.
For the Maverick fan's perspective visit Mavs Moneyball.
- The Spurs completed the season sweep over the Mavericks for the second straight season. They also swept the season series with the Grizzlies after sweeping them out of the Western Conference Finals last year. That's two of the three teams that the Spurs might face in the first round of the playoffs and they Spurs are 16-0 against those two in their last 16 games. Which is kind of nuts.
- Patty Mills and Danny Green combined to go 11-for-20 from deep. Patty did a great job filling in for Parker, finishing with 26 points and six assists to no turnovers. Patty Mills is awesome. When he exercised his player option over the offseason he chose wisely and every party involved is better off for it.
- The Spurs shot just 43% from the field, but they were 16-34 (47%) from behind the arc. 34 attempts!
- Tim and Dirk have played a lot of games against each other. Tim got the better of the German this time. He scored one more point on two less attempts and grabbed 150% more rebounds than Nowitzki. It was fun to see the two vets go at each other on a handful of possessions during the game.
- Kawhi Leonard is turning into a beast. He finished with 16 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, five assists and a couple of steals in this one. He's entering the playoffs playing the best ball of his young career.
The Spurs return to the Alamo City to battle the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. Like Dallas, the Suns are fighting to make the playoffs. It's a three way race, with Memphis, for two spots and the next week should provide some fun basketball. Phoenix, Memphis, and Dallas all play each other.