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Spurs wither against Mavericks

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After a familiarly-dominant 1st quarter, the Spurs looked awful for an extended stretch against the Mavs.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

What started out as another promising night ended up largely forgettable. After storming out of the gates in the first quarter for a 12-point lead (extending their streak of double-digit leads to 13 games), and briefly increasing that in the second quarter to 14, it looked like the good times were continuing to roll. There was a point where the Mavericks, and specifically new father Dirk Nowitzki, looked like they didn't know how play defense.

Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter were deftly weaving balls through the paint and Tiago had already finger-rolled on Dirk on consecutive possessions. But when Matt Bonner beat Dirk off the dribble for a baby hook in the lane, it seemed to ignite a sleeping giant. Not unlike Marcus Smart hitting him in Red Rocket Jr. a few nights before, Bonner beating the defense off the dribble seemed like a low-blow worth fighting back from.

That happened at the 9:15 mark in the second quarter. Over the next 23 minutes until the Spurs first bucket of the fourth quarter, the Mavericks outscored them 61-30.

The fact that the Spurs were able to recover from two awful quarters where wide-open shots simply wouldn't fall and they couldn't even begin to contain Monta Ellis (who had 21 of his 38 during this stretch) should be some testament to their effort.

A Danny Green three-pointer made it a bum-clinching 7-point lead for the Mavericks with 1:43 remaining, but a timely Chandler Parsons flop ultimately sealed the game.

The Mavs are not a perfect matchup, but the Spurs did them a favor by not hitting the boards against the worst rebounding team in league (more on this) and failing to convert open looks against the the 5th worst team at defending the three.

Quote of the Night

"We gotta be smarter...and then we go to dinner."

- Popovich, a man who knows how to motivate. And how to eat.

Game MVP

Well, the two players who actually showed up for the Spurs were Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, but it would be unjust to put anyone here but Monta Ellis. There was simply too much Monta.

Ellis: 38 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals (on nearly 60% shooting)

He knocked down big threes, though he was only 2-for-6, but it was his ability to get to the basket at his discretion that changed the course of this game. Many of his 16 field goals felt like fast break points, but were against a set Spurs defense...which is worrying.

(At least Kawhi did this to him)

Game LVP

Tony Parker.

For all of the "he's back" talk since the massive "he's finished!" speculation, this was a pretty forgettable game for La Petite Francois. Like the rest of the team, he started out decently enough, with 5 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 10 minutes. Unfortunately he was a ghost for his other 16 minutes (finishing with 8 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 4 turnovers; -12 boxscore +/-) and saw an ineffective Patty Mills on the court for the fourth quarter.

Odds and Ends

  • It seems that the Spurs need Aron Baynes, or at least a 3rd true big. Ayres is a non-factor, Bonner is Bonner, and Boris can't do a lot of the things required of a Spurs big (though he showed brief flashes of the crazy things that he CAN do, in tandem with a true big). One of the ways this manifested itself was rebounding. The Spurs were out-rebounded by a Mavs team that is DEAD LAST in the NBA in Rebounding % and rebounding differential.
  • The Spurs terrible 28% from beyond-the-arc doesn't even begin to sum up their futility. I'd like the see the numbers on how many of their 28 attempts were uncontested. They missed at least 9 corner threes, which is a sign of a terribly off night.
  • Guarding speedy guards seems to be a glaring weakness of the Spurs. Monta Ellis, and to some extent Devin Harris, seemed to get to the rim at will. In a league with an unprecedented talent pool at point guard depth (not to mention Steph Curry [shudders]), this is a real problem. Kyrie, Monta...even Langston Galloway made a meal of the Spurs. If there is any hope of a playoff run, this will have to be rectified.
  • Cory Joseph may potentially be our best chance to defend these small, quick, jitterbug, guards. Unfortunately, the threat of Patty Mills shooting (certainly not the result at the moment) kept Joseph on the bench for the entire game until he entered with Reggie Williams for one garbage minute.

Numbers Game

6. In 68 games this season, Dirk has had double-digit rebounds only six times. His 13 against the Spurs was just one shy of his season high. That may be the most damning take away.

18%. Outside of Danny Green's 4-for-6, the rest of the Spurs shot terribly from deep.

18. The Spurs scored 18 of their 38 points in the paint in the first quarter. They abandoned attacking the rim and their 3-point shot abandoned them...bad combination.

1. Kawhi Leonard is the only player in the league averaging 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals a game. He bettered each of those again.

Internet Watercooler

GOAT

...For the Mavs beat reporter. A revelation for Spurs fans:

THIS EXPLAINS IT:

That's the German equivalent of "bread and butter"...right?

I don't know if this is a good or bad thing:

Perspective:

Watch out Thunder: