Gregg Popovich managed Tim Duncan's minutes, okay, everyone's minutes, really well this season. That's great because it allowed Tim to play the entire first quarter. Both teams had trouble hitting jumpers in the opening period and Dallas shot just 25% from the field to the Spurs' 39%. Tony Parker, though, worked his way through the lane in Tony Parker fashion and scored nine points in nine minutes on six attempts. Dallas certainly upped their defensive intensity for the playoffs, limiting the three point looks for the Spurs, but both teams missed good looks at the basket. The score at the end of the quarter stood at 21-12, Spurs.
The Mavericks opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run before Manu Ginobili hit a corner three to put some points up for the good guys at the eight and a half minute mark. It was the first made three of the game for the Spurs after missing several open looks. The Maverick bench flipped the script on San Antonio, outscoring the silver and black reserves 17-7 through the first quarter and a half. Pop reinserted the starters and Parker (17 first half points) continued to get what he wanted in the paint, but the Mavericks made everything in the quarter, shooting 67% from the floor, after missing everything in the first. Dallas outscored SA 32-22 and took a 44-43 lead into the half. Marco Belinelli struggled on both sides of the floor, going 0-of-3 from the floor and playing pretty bad defense.
The Spurs and Mavs traded buckets for the first half of the third. Manu hit his third three of the game making him 3-for-3 and the team 3-for-13 from deep. The rest of the quarter was tight and the Spurs were able to outscore the Mavs 22-21 to tie the game at 65 going into the deciding period.
The Mavs started the fourth on an 8-2 run to take a quick six point lead, their largest of the game to that point, and Pop stopped the game to talk it over. The Mavs stayed hot and extended the lead to 10 after a Brandon Wright and-one, but the Spurs responded with Tim Duncan. The Big Fundamental scored on back-to-back possessions to trim the lead back to six. On the second make Tim was fouled several times on the play with no call and Duncan, visibly upset, spent a minute telling one of the officials that he was fouled three times on the play. The replay confirmed that.
A couple made free throws from Kawhi Leonard, another Timmy bucket, a great pick-and-roll from Tony and Tiago, a nice drive from TP followed by a Parker jumper gave the Spurs a four-point lead on a 14-0 run. The Spurs wrestled control of the game back from the Mavs, Nowitzki remained cold, and the Spurs came away with the victory.
One down, 15 to go.
Gregg Popovich Postgame interview:
It's never one thing in losing a game or winning a game. It's difficult to tell you everything that went on. We scored and they didn't, for all kinds of reasons. They missed some easy shots and that helped us, we played some good defense and that helped us. So, a little bit of everything.
On Timmy reentering the game after his knee-to-knee collision with Monta Ellis.
Well, Timmy isn't going to score 24 a game or anything like that, but he's the base from which everything else occurs whether he's scoring or not. It gives us a comfort level and a point from which to operate. He plays D, rebounds, scores here and there, and just does his job.
On what the Mavs did to keep the Spurs out of rhythm
They played well. It's the playoffs. It's a game of mistakes. Like Doc said in his game, every possession is the final possession of the game in the playoffs. It couldn't be stated better. That's what it's all about. Down the stretch there it looked like we might have the game in hand and then we turned it over. Then we committed an offensive foul. That's why the games are played, you don't really know what's going to happen. You want to be the team that makes fewer of those kinds of mistakes, especially down the stretch. We were fortunate in that regard that they missed some shots.
On Tim's injury
I didn't have time to think about the severity of it. You just have to keep playing the game. They told me he was ready and we got him back in. I think he just bumped knees and it went numb or cold for awhile. He didn't injure it.
On Tiago defending Dirk and getting on the boards
As we've said many times before, with Dirk, you do the best job you can. That's what you have to live with. Tiago couldn't have done a better job. He's going to work at it no matter what, Dirk is going to score - you can't stop that. As long as we can make Dirk work hard, that's the goal, because we know we can't stop him from scoring.
On Devin Harris
He's capable of scoring. He might not do it night after night, but he's capable of that. He showed that this evening. Whether he's driving or pulling up or shooting threes, he was fantastic. He almost won the game for them, in a sense, if you want to think about it. His contribution was huge.
On relying on the big-3 instead of balanced scoring
It just happened. You never know who's going to score. You hope your best players have good nights, and I don't think our bench contributed like they usually do. Maybe they were a little nervous, maybe it just happened. We save minutes all year long so we can give those minutes come playoff time.
- Tony and Tim accounted for 63% of the first half points for the Spurs. The rest of the team went 7-for-23 from the field.
- Charles Barkley made a point of saying that he doesn't hate the Spurs and that he actually loved the Spurs. Then he called them old, because that's his thing these days. He also insulted the city of San Antonio, as he does, but in a strange way. He said, "how bored do you have to be in San Antonio to go to the zoo."
- The Spurs bench, so great in the regular season, didn't show up for this one - Manu excluded. Marco, Boris and Patty went 3-of-16 from the field and 0-of-6 from deep. We're going to need those guys to show up going forward.
- Dirk Nowitzki finished with just 11 points, hitting 4 of his 14 attempts. He missed a bunch of open looks. The Spurs were lucky in that, and they can't expect that to hold true for the remainder of this series.