The first quarter mostly filled me with anger, dread and disappointment with the Spurs still not looking right. Nothing was dropping for the good guys, they looked out of it, and the Mavs got open looks. Halfway through the quarter I really wanted to stop watching the game, it was just making me upset. Then the Spurs got some buckets courtesy of Manu Ginobili, who went four of five from the field while the rest of the team went just four of sixteen. It wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been, with Dallas struggling to knock down shots as well, and the Spurs trailed 18-23 after the first twelve minutes.
The Spurs then played one heck of a second quarter. The defense was tight, the role players hit shots and the team just seemed to be focused and hungry. It was a most welcome sight for any fan of the silver and black. The quarter was so good for the good guys that they outscored the Mavericks 32-13 and took a 50-36 lead into the half. I tell you what, my spirits changed dramatically from the first quarter. Manu was great in the period which is always a pleasure to witness.
The third quarter was tightly contested with the Mavericks cutting the Spurs lead to just eight at 73-65. Boris Diaw found whatever he had lost during the first three games and through three quarters he had 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor.
Over the first three minutes of the fourth the Spurs were outscored 6-2 and a once 20-point lead stood at just four. DeJuan Blair was a beast on the boards and he provided a spark that the Mavs really needed. To that point Blair had 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and a whopping 10 rebounds. Worry set back in for me.
The Mavericks eventually took the lead. It was terrible. It was kind of hard for me to really focus on the game. At some point DeJuan Blair kicked Tiago Splitter in the head, got ejected from the game, and the Spurs pulled out a nail-biter in Dallas.
It was much closer than we would have liked, but it's a W and that's all that really matters I guess. The Spurs take back home court advantage and the series is now a best of three affair.
Gregg Popovich Postgame Interview
On the bench tonight
I think the bench did a fine job, what we've been used to most of the season. It was a big help for us tonight.
On the third quarter defense
We were playing a good team, they played really well. It's the playoffs. Every team is going to make runs. You're not going to play great anything for 48 minutes. They came out very physical in the third quarter, did a good job and we had a couple of turnovers, a couple of bad shots and it turned. It's not just defense, it's obviously a lot of things when you go up by a bit or you give up a run.
On DJB ejection
Well, we got an extra free throw. No one's going to throw that away. DeJuan did a good job, he played his ass off.
On Manu and the pick and roll
It depends on who's handling the ball. It's what Manu has done his entire time in the NBA. He's good at that, just like Dirk is good at things. It's what Manu does.
On Tony Parker's play
I'm never happy with anybody's play. He didn't have a great game by any means. It happens. He'll be fine. I don't think the same guys are going to play great every night in a series. It's usually different guys on different nights.
On the overall defense
Holding them to 89 is a whole lot better than 109. That's what has to happen.
Talk about your motivational speech
Did someone tell you that I gave a motivational speech? They lied to you. I don't know what you're talking about with the motivational speech. I'm being honest. We went down by 10 right off the bat. Rick's motivational speech certainly had to be better than mine if I gave one. They drilled us to start the game so I honestly don't know you're talking about.
On limiting Dirk's production
I think Dirk has been pretty good. Him and Timmy aren't going to score 28 and 30 every night like they used to. You can't expect those two guys to be doing that every night at this point in their careers. They're both getting some good stuff done, they're both playing well, but I don't think that we stopped Dirk by any means. I don't think we stopped him at all.