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Final Score: Spurs uneven but solid in 94-76 win

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The Spurs again started off hot against the Dallas Mavericks, but saw their 21 point lead get to within 4 points before reasserting themselves for the big win.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks have had two days off since they last played the Spurs on Tuesday, while the Spurs scrimmaged against the D-League Oklahoma City Blue dominated the Oklahoma City Thunder in the interim.

The game started out fairly even with each team missing shots, and the Spurs in particular looking sloppy through the first six minutes. A Tiago Splitter fumble and broken possession ended with a Kawhi Leonard corner three in what would sum up the Spurs opening stretch; sloppy, but with the right mindset and purpose.

They started to figure it out midway through the quarter and pulled ahead on a 6-0 run after Tony Parker was shaken up by one of Tyson Chandler's razor-sharp elbows. The Spurs appeared to be aggressive, exploiting the Mavericks being the worst rebounding team in the league. They were running after defensive boards and capitalizing with second chance points on their offensive rebounds. After a Boris Diaw three pointer, the Spurs claimed their 15th consecutive double-digit, ending the first quarter 28-18.

The Spurs second unit, which conceded a 12-point lead in the last matchup looked much sharper (despite the hilarity that was this Splitter almost-coast-to-coast that resulted in a turnover).

Their spacing and ball movement had glimpses of the Foreign Legion of years past. Unlike earlier this week, the Spurs were able to convert their excellent offense and open looks into a 15-0 run.

Though Manu Ginobili came in a few minutes later than usual in the rotation, his fingerprints were all over the Spurs success with three quick assists and a nice drive to the basket. He and Boris seemed to be almost toying with the Mavs occasionally porous defense. A Diaw three-pointer assisted by Danny Green immediately followed by a vice versa Diaw triple increased the lead to 18.

The Spurs ultimately outshot the Mavs 51 to 39 percent in the first half, but there were some troubles bubbling underneath the surface. The 54-41 lead was underscored by a 10-2 Mavericks run to end the half. At one point, Kawhi was mauled on one end of the court followed by a phantom foul on the other, and Popovich ended up getting an understandable technical letting his (always subdued) opinions be known. The officiating in this game was at times bizarre, affecting both teams.

For all of the Spurs first half successes, the 21 point lead was cut to 4 by the halfway point of the 3rd quarter. Tony Parker picked up his fourth foul three minutes in and wouldn't play until the fourth. The Spurs at one point missed 12 consecutive shots, including a pair of Patty Mills airballs. A redemption three pointer from Mills (he started 0-for-5) seemed to slightly wake the Spurs, and more importantly their ball movement. A Danny Green three pointer before the buzzer salvaged an 8 point lead after one of the ugliest of their wart-laden third quarters.

Boris started the 4th quarter in form, hustling back to stop what should've been a wide open transition layup for Devin Harris, then hitting a three-pointer that was part of a 10-0 run to put the Spurs up 76-61. The Spurs defense (and Boris) continued to carry the offense in the fourth quarter, as turnovers stalled any momentum the Mavericks had in keeping the lead to single digits.

A Matt Bonner shot-clock heave from 12 feet out, with perfect defense in his face, was the comical dagger that ushered in the reserves for both teams to see out the final two and half minutes.

Quick Notes:

  • The Spurs had the same point total as Tuesday, but the Mavericks scored 25 fewer points.

  • The Spurs closed well on the Mavericks shooters, holding them to 9-26 from three. This was comparable to the Spurs shooting on Tuesday (8-28), though most of their 20 misses were on wide open looks.

  • The Mavs must seemingly average ~9 saved balls a game (Al-Farouq Aminu being involved in many). Or at least against the Spurs this week.

  • During that exceptionally poor stretch to open the 3rd quarter, the Spurs fell into the familiar issue of the nearly 39-year old Duncan appearing to be exerting the most effort. There was one possession that seemed like TD had 4 offensive rebounds to get repaid with 4 terrible shots.

  • Spurs-nemesis Monta Ellis went out in the 3rd quarter with an otherwise quiet 10 points in 23 minutes. He had been averaging 34 ppg.

  • The French reincarnation of Robert Horry, "Big Shot Bob(o)," seems to be a thing. His waking from a 65-game hibernation (consecutive 19 point games) would lend itself to some clever French/bear nickname, but according to Google bear translates to "Porter."

  • (Update: thanks to aretae for pointing out: Apparently the animal is actually "ours" (pronounced like "oorz")...which leaves us no closer to a nickname.
  • Manu Ginoblili looked healthy and featured many gems from his old bag-o-tricks: highlight passing, contesting in the paint, and drawing countless fouls. Though he didn't shoot particularly well, it was a fantastic effort.

Up Next:

The Spurs, now firmly with the 6th seed, have one night off before hosting the second seeded Memphis Grizzlies in a potential playoff preview on Sunday.