The San Antonio Spurs took on the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night at the AT&T Center. This was a SEGABABA for both teams as the Mavericks beat the Lakers the night before while the Spurs outlasted the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime. Both teams came in shorthanded due to their previous night's outing. Manu Ginobili tweaked his hamstring while making the game-winner against the Grizzlies and Shawn Marion bruised his shoulder after taking a hard fall against the Lakers. The game was sluggish in the first half, as one would expect, but the Spurs were able to dominate the second half enroute to a 112-90 blowout win.
It turns out that the best medicine for slumping Spurs is a game against the porous Dallas Mavericks' defense. Jose Calderon had the cure for Parkers' ailing game while Dirk Nowitzki and DeJuan Blair got the starters off to a nice start with their inability to protect the rim. Dallas' starting five can't stop penetration, especially with Shawn Marion out, and they can't challenge shots near the basket. Their only hope is to outscore their opponents. While the Spurs' starters can struggle offensively, they are very capable of playing great defense.
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San Antonio's starters' strengths and weaknesses created the perfect storm for Dallas. The Spurs' defense stifled the Mavericks while Dallas had no answers for Tony Parker on the other end. Within a few minutes, Dallas was down 13-4, and Rick Carlisle was forced to stop the action with a timeout.
The rest of the half was played on tired legs. While the Spurs controlled most of it with a ten point lead, they were unable to break the game open. They turned the ball over 11 times to the Mavericks' two, which enabled Dallas to keep it close. Going into halftime, the Spurs led 45-38.
In the third quarter, the San Antonio took control of the game. I think Pop's halftime speech went something like this. "Tony, can Calderon stay in front of you?" "No." "Can Dirk or DeJuan block your shot?" "No." "Then what are you waiting for?"
Parker began the third with purpose. He hit four jumpers and assisted on another to get San Antonio off to a dominant start. Tony finished the quarter with 14 points and Tim Duncan added eight more to take full control of the game. Going into the fourth, the Spurs led by 20 and the Mavericks were demoralized.
The previous night, the Spurs faced a tenacious Grizzlies team that didn't have much talent, but never gave up. Tonight they faced a Mavericks team on tired legs that seemed very willing to accept the loss once the Spurs demonstrated their prowess. The Spurs went on to win the game comfortably, 112-90.
- I don't know how Dallas has such a decent record at this point in the season. Maybe Shawn Marion means a lot more to the team than I think. Or maybe they were just playing on legs that were significantly more tired than the Spurs. That Dallas team is incredibly flawed. No defense, no rim protection and just one shot-creator on the entire team should translate to a losing record in the West. Rick Carlisle is a great coach, but I'm still amazed this team was 20-15 coming into the game.
- It was the same old DeJuan Blair that I remember giving me a headache for years. He's just too short. Not only was he unable to protect the rim, he couldn't get a defensive rebound. The Spurs dominated DeJuan and Dirk on the boards, beating Dallas 36-18 in the first half, 11 of which were offensive rebounds. Generally, the Spurs do not make offensive rebounding a priority. Tonight, they couldn't help themselves.
- Tim Duncan followed up his 24 point, 17 rebound performance against the Grizzlies with a pristine 16 point, 13 rebound outing against Dallas. Thanks to the Spurs ever-growing lead, Pop was able to sit Duncan the entire fourth quarter. The Big Fundamental is looking good.
- Boris Diaw filled up the stat sheet with an active six points, five rebounds, six assists, one block and one steal. His passing tonight was a thing of beauty. He carved up the Mavericks' defense with his perfectly timed assists. He also defended Dirk about as well as is possible without fouling. He timed all of Dirk's moves perfectly and always had a hand right in Nowvitzki's face.
- Dirk looked old tonight. He can still get his funky shots up, but he was moving like he was stuck in quicksand. I think the SEGABABA must have had a significant impact on his legs.
- I think Pop decided to bring Belinelli off the bench in an attempt to replace Manu's play-making ability in the second unit. The strategy played out perfectly as Danny held his own with the starters and the second unit didn't experience any letdowns with Marco to fall back on. Marco scored 17 efficient points on just nine shots and also grabbed three boards.
- Jeff Ayres played another impressive game to pick up the slack from the injured Tiago
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- The MVP of the game definitely goes to Tony Parker. He finished with 25 points, making 10 of his 15 shots to go along with his seven assists. He got the Spurs off to a great start in the first quarter and took the game over in the third, which allowed the Spurs to pull away and never look back. All I want from Tony is some consistency moving forward. The Spurs need this version of Tony to reach their potential.
Please visit MavsMoneyball for Dallas' perspective.
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- Rehash: Spurs outlast fellow Western Conference Finalist Grizzlies in overtime
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- Buy Spurs vs. Thunder tickets, come early and get a free Spurs t-shirt