Many thanks to Peter Sherman who helped out with this game recap
The sequence is simple, Tim Duncan, 21 points; Danny Green, 22 points; Tony Parker, 23 points. The three players totaled 66, accounted for over half of the San Antonio's total, and led the Spurs to a win over the Dallas Mavericks. Easy, right? But as far as a metaphor for the game, it's completely misleading since there wasn't anything simple about this contest. Thursday was one of those nights where a glance at the box score couldn't give you the merest hint of what occurred in the game.
Parker led the Spurs in scoring, but he missed two thirds of his shots, had more turnovers (4) than assists (3), was a -7 for the game, and got nearly half his points from the free throw line. For the second straight game, something seemed amiss with the point guard and the sour expression he wore all night underscored the point.
Green once again came off the bench, and he gave Coach Popovich nothing but positive reinforcement for removing him from the starting lineup by responding with offensive perfection. In his 27 minutes he was +18 with two assists, three steals, and two blocks while going all night without a miss. He hit all five of his shots behind the arc, both of his shots at the rim, and all three of his free throws.
Duncan tallied another double-double with 13 boards to go with those 21 points, but late in the 4th quarter he was having a 5-14 shooting night with just 15 points and his jumper was as flat as it's been all season.
It was a strange night for San Antonio's first look at DeJuan Blair in Mavericks colors. The former Spur had let it be known that he was going to show up against his former team. Prior to the game, he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
It's going to be a fun game. It's just something that I've been looking forward to, of course, and I'm going to have some fun tonight. I ain't got nothing to prove. I'm going to just have fun, though. It's going to be a sweet thing.
And Blair did in fact get off to a great start against the Spurs. He knocked down a variety of his fancy reverse layups that any Spur fan would immediately recognize. While he only saw 23 minutes of action, he was impressively efficient with a 14-point, 11-rebound night on 6-8 from the field.
But Dallas was carried by their own trio of twenty-something point-scorers. Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Vince Carter contributed 25, 23 and 20 points respectively, with only Carter's coming inefficiently on 4-12 shooting. While only seven Mavericks scored, they hung around all night and the Spurs couldn't run away and hide until 10:10 left in the 4th quarter when they went on a 13-4 run to make it 100-85 with less than 6 minutes to play. But this wasn't a first team to 100 points wins game as Dallas's zone defense helped them stall the Spurs attack and reel off their own 12-0 run to pull within three.
The home crowd was rocking, the Mavs were high-fiving and Pop called a timeout to settle things down. The next four Spurs possessions found their way into Duncan's hands. Boris Diaw drove the lane and passed to Tim for a layup. Manu Ginobili ran a pick and roll with Duncan and found him open for another layup. And when Leonard fed him on the right block, Tim posted and faked until Samuel Dalembert was appropriately draped across his shoulders for a foul. Then he hit both free throws. After six straight points from Duncan, Dallas doubled him the next time down and he passed to a wide open Green in the corner who hit his fifth three-pointer. And it was all over but the free throws.
- As miserably as Green played on Christmas evening against the Rockets, that's how brilliant he was on Boxing Day in Dallas. Seemed like whenever Dallas looked like they were gaining momentum to make a run, he was there to knock down a three. He also had a crucial steal at the end of the game to help secure the victory. And if that wasn't enough, he even knocked down a left-handed layup.
- Dirk is as comfortable being unstoppable as any star I've ever seen. When he posts up on the left block, everybody in the arena knows that funky-legged fadeaway is coming, but that doesn't mean anyone can stop it. He's so tall and his shot has so much arc and his release is so high that you'd just about have to be standing on his shoulders to have a chance of blocking it. And he does it all with a smooth slowness that belies the coordination involved. He just looks like he's strolling through the park, he makes it look so easy. I used to make fun of him because it seemed like all he'd ever do was be a jumpshooter, but that ring they won at Miami's expense showed that he could drive for baskets with the game on the line. Nowitzki is as good as they come and I'll actually be sorry to see him go when he finally hangs them up.
- DeJuan looks a little thinner. I guess that will happen when your team isn't sponsored by Whataburger.
- Although they're averaging 17.6 trips to the line per game, the Spurs had 42 free throws Thursday night. Lets hope this trend continues.
- The Big Three were a combined 15-41 (36.5%) tonight. Thank goodness IcyHot brought the Hot in Dallas.
It's back home for two days off before a Sunday night matchup against the Sacramento Kings -- one of the five teams with just 8 wins or less on the season.