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Dallas at San Antonio, Final Score: Spurs tame the Mavericks 112-83

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After a traditional San Antonio slow start, the Spurs heated up and wore down the Mavericks, breaking the game wide open in the third quarter behind a dominant LaMarcus Aldridge performance.

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After overcoming a slow start, the Spurs were able to tame the Mavericks behind solid efforts from LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. In a pattern familiar to Spurs fans this year, the bench unit of the Spurs outplayed the Mavs reserves badly and put the game away for the good guys.

Writing these recaps for the Spurs has become a little like telling a joke in prison. They've become so familiar, that nobody really bothers saying all of the words any more, you can just yell out the number of the joke, and your fellow inmates will be amused or not depending on how well you perform in calling the number.  This is recap #42. Like the joke about prison jokes, it's still entertaining, no matter how many times you've heard it before, if it's well told.

The game started in a soporific fashion, as both teams fumbled about like blind rats on the floor of the AT&T Center for the first 12 minutes, finding just a few scraps of cheese on the floor to keep themselves from starving. There were a total of three defensive three second calls in the first quarter, two on the Mavericks and one on the Silver and Black. To be fair, the offenses weren't moving either. Somehow, a few of the bricks thrown up by the teams managed to find their way through the hoop, and Dallas led at the end of the quarter 16-14. Dirk Nowitzki wasn't Dirk yet, shooting 0-6 in the quarter.

The second quarter was a little less painful for basketball fans to watch. The Mavs brought in JaVale McGee, who was able to get free on a few dives to the basket and dunk the ball with authority.  Boris Diaw and Jonathon Simmons hit a few clutch three-point shots and the Spurs build a five point lead halfway through the quarter.  Then for some reason, Zaza Pachulia, who is a tall man, decided that in order to get a rebound, he should grab Patty Mills, who is not a tall man, and toss him roughly to the ground.  The referees, as they are paid to do, witnessed this and assessed a flagrant 1 foul against Zaza.  Patty hit his two free throws, but Manu Ginobili turned over the ball. The Mavericks weren't able to take advantage, and the Spurs were able to get a little breathing room as the quarter ended.  Chandler Parsons hit a three to keep the Spurs lead from expanding too far, but the Spurs were able to go into the half up 10 at the half, 46-36, more than doubling their output in the first quarter.

The second half started slowly for both teams as they missed shots, but Deron Williams hit some free throws and LaMarcus Aldridge hit a shot and a little later brought the ball into the body of JaVale McGee under the basket and got a basket and a foul. As the quarter progressed, LaMarcus began to assert himself and victimized Charlie Villanueva, Dirk Nowitzki and McGee as they all tried to guard him.

The Spurs, unfortunately for us fans, didn't hold up their end on defense, with breakdowns allowing easy cuts to the basket for Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews. It wasn't all bad on defense, as Tim Duncan erased a shot from Dirk at 5:16 without leaving his feet, which of course was recovered by the good guys.

Boris Diaw was matched up with Wesley Matthews for most of the quarter, which gave the Mavs a tiny edge with his speed on offense, but a huge disadvantage on defense as Boris punished Wesley in the paint with his superior bulk and length.  After Matthews left with foul trouble with about 2 minutes left, Boris switched to the outside, sinking a couple of threes when the Mavs were slow to rotate. The Spurs stretched their lead to 22 at the end of the third, leading 78-56.

With 8:55 left in the game, and the Spurs up by 25, Boban Marjanovic entered the game for the Silver and Black, and the era of no mercy for the Mavs began.

The game was finished out with a lineup of Boban, Kyle Anderson, Rasual Butler, Danny Green and Jonathon Simmons.  Rick Carlisle waved the white flag, and the fans were treated to an exhibition from the hungry Spurs end of the bench players (plus Green, who needed the run) as they took the opportunity to show the Spurs fans how much fun they can have playing basketball. Danny Green finished off the scoring for the good guys with an alley-oop from Kyle Anderson.

Notes:

  • Boris Diaw has a unique combination of skills in the paint along with an ability to hit clutch outside shots when needed.  His ability to create an inside-out problem for the defense all by himself is rare, even in a league filled with elite athletes.
  • LaMarcus is dominant, but in an almost quiet fashion.  You don't even notice how many points and rebounds he has.  He's learning from his sensei.  [It's Tim, of course.]
With the Spurs comfortably ahead, Kawhi looked pretty relaxed on the bench early in the fourth quarter.

According to Wikipedia, a Maverick is not necessarily a horse, but the Dallas Maverick's logo is decidedly equine, so let's just go with it, eh?

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The Spurs record is now 36-6, in second place in the Western Conference just a few games behind a tired team on the west coast that's chasing records. Their next contest is on Thursday, January 21 at 9:30 CT in Phoenix, against the struggling Suns.  I don't know what the Spurs are going to do on their 3 days off (longest break so far this season), but I'd like to think that Manu will be relaxing in his chicken retreat.