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Spurs win sixth straight, beat Mavericks 96-91

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

In an underwhelming performance that provided some late-game tension, the San Antonio Spurs picked up their 11th win of the season against an injury-plagued Dallas Mavericks squad that holds the worst record in the league. The now 2-11 Mavericks, led by a nice performance from Seth Curry, almost upset the Spurs in the AT&T Center on Monday night. San Antonio held on late and improved to 11-3 for the year which ties their third-best 14-game start to a season in franchise history.

A pretty game it was not – Gregg Popovich even greeted the post-game media scrum by saying the performance of the team was “pathetic”. He didn’t take any questions but he doubled down on his first statement and said that he thought the Spurs, “showed a lack of humility, a lack of respect for the opponent, [and that was] a very pathetic performance on both ends of the court, both in execution and in grunt, in fiber, in desire. It was an awful performance.”

He exited the interview room only to reappear a handful of seconds later to add one last statement, “Oh, and [the Mavericks] deserved to win the basketball game. I forgot to say that.”

Pop’s been rather mild with the media this season, so it was kind of nice to see the grouchy leader make an appearance. Part of me almost thinks that he likes to be able to take the team down a peg or three after a five-game win-streak.

I mean, the Spurs did start two rookies in place of LaMarcus Alridge and Tony Parker, who were both out for rest. Dejounte Murray and Davis Bertans each got their first NBA start against a Mavericks team that had four, maybe five, legitimate NBA players suited up.

Pop’s known for giving teams that are missing key players a break and trying to make the fight a bit more fair by resting some of his guys. It’s hard to believe that Parker and Aldridge needed a night off after just getting three days off and the team facing a less-than-grueling week with just just three games in the next seven days. Maybe this worked out perfectly for Popovich – TP and LA got a night off, the Spurs got a win, the young guys got some run and the team struggled, meaning he gets to do some yelling, some motivating and some teaching.

Maybe I’m way overthinking it and the Spurs just had a bad night, another rough home-game. The Spurs did manage to get over .500 at home with the win (4-3) in a strange early-season chapter for the team. None of that is meant to excuse the lackluster performance they displayed. Outside of some late-game clutch plays from Manu Ginobili, two huge boards and a couple steals helped secure the win for SA, there was little good displayed from the home team.

The offense was sluggish to start for San Antonio against the NBA's seventh best defense in Dallas. You read that right, the Mavericks posted the seventh-best defensive rating coming into tonight. They also lead the league in forcing turnovers. Rick Carlisle is truly one of the best. How he’s managed to get his guys to play that well in their own end in is a mystery to me but it sure is impressive. But the Mavs are not 2-11 without good reason; they are dead last in offensive rating.

So it was slightly jarring to see the other Curry light up the Spurs in the first half. The undrafted journeyman hit five of his six deep attempts in the first two quarters. He plummeted back down to earth and missed his last four three-balls, the last of which could have tied the game at 94 with six seconds left.

It was a weird game and I don’t think there’s anything to take from it. It’s November, the Spurs probably didn’t take their opponent seriously enough and were arguably missing two of their three most important players. It is what it is.

It wasn’t the greatest thing to see after the Spurs just spent a nice stretch progressing positively but in the end they got the W. And with that, the team remains comfortably in the three-seed out west, trailing the Clippers and Warriors by just a game in the loss column. It’s a long season, the team is clearly good and we’ll just have to see how they shape up as the year progresses.

Quick Notes:

  • Kawhi Leonard is still finding his way. He didn’t have the most efficient night, and had a handful of possessions that brought to mind bad-Kobe. In the end he finished with a game-high 24 points on 19 shots, grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and finished with four helpers (another team-high... *sigh*) to just one giveaway. Even when the best player on the team has an off-night he’s pretty good.
  • Dejounte Murray had a rough night. This season isn’t for him. I’m glad he got some run in, but he is raw. Talented, but raw. He finished with four points, four assists, four fouls and four turnovers in his 14 minutes.
  • Even short-handed, Kyle Anderson was the odd man out. He played just 13 minutes in the contest and finished with two points. At this point I’m not sure he’s going to find his way back into the rotation as the season progresses. It was all set up for him to take a bigger role with the team this season but he seems to be in Pop’s doghouse. I hope the kid finds his way out but I’m not holding my breath.
  • Jonathon Simmons had the game of his life against the Warriors on opening night and hit three of his five threes. Since then, he’s gone 0-for-12 from deep. The Spurs seem to be thin at the wing after a brief moment of who’s-the-odd-man-out-at-the-now-stacked-wing. He played just nine minutes in the game. But it’s early and The Juice, as well as Kyle, still have plenty of time to earn their way back into the rotation.
  • David Lee and Patty Mills were semi-bright spots for the team, scoring 12 and 17, respectively. Lee posted a +12 and Mills a +14 for the game. So it wasn’t all bad.

Up Next:

The Spurs hit the road for a three-game East coast trip and will take on the Hornets on Wednesday at six, the Celtics on Friday at noon and Washington at six on Saturday – all times Central. The Spurs are a perfect 7-0 on the road so far this year.