The Spurs started tonight's game against the Mavericks sharp behind strong efforts from Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, and the Mavs were kept in check by the Spurs defense. Things got embarrassing for the Mavericks in the second quarter as the Spurs rushed to a 36 point halftime lead. Zaza Pachulia got involved in some questionable plays for the Mavs and drew the ire of several Spurs until he got ejected early in the third quarter. The Mavericks played respectably for most of the rest of the second half, reducing the deficit to an almost respectable 26 points at the end of the game.
The Spurs started out with four different players scoring baskets, with Kawhi Leonard putting in a jumper, David West muscling in a shot, Danny Green hitting a deep three, and LaMarcus Aldridge with a two. Kawhi broke the pattern by scoring the next basket, and he was the dominant player in the first. Meanwhile, the ponies just one game after only having only 4 turnovers in an entire game, beat that total in the first. The Spurs, with Kawhi leading the way and the bench playing well to close out the quarter, rushed to a 27-12 lead at the break.
LA doing work in Dallas pic.twitter.com/C2lCVBj0Zn— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 6, 2016
The second quarter started with Boban Marjanovic holding down the paint for the Silver and Black, and Jonathon Simmons hustling on defense to draw charges, even when Raymond Felton got matched up on Boban and thought he had him beat to the basket. But the star early in the quarter was Patty Mills who drew a blocking foul on Salah Mejri as he tried to draw a charging foul on him, despite being over a foot taller. Patty hit some long range shots, and Kyle Anderson got into the act by drawing a foul on a three point attempt. The Spurs got out to a 40-16 lead before Charlie Villanueva finally got a layup for the Mavs, cutting the lead to 22, causing Pop to call a quick timeout to staunch the bleeding. The most drama was when Mejri dunked the ball and tried to taunt Pop, who seemed amused by the failed attempt to trash talk.
Everything seemed to be working for the Spurs, even on a possession where they lost the ball, Tony Parker got it back and sank a three pointer as the shot clock ran out to increase the lead to 25 points. The Spurs led by 30 (52-22) with a little over 3 minutes left in the half, but they weren't done yet. Tony, LaMarcus and Kawhi hit some baskets, and only Javale McGee was able to do anything for the Mavs.
The Spurs were making the Mavericks look like a bad team, but they really aren't. Zaza Pachulia, who had previously tried to grab LaMarcus' ankle when he was on the ground, grabbed and yanked Kawhi's arm, then tried to elbow David West in the face, for a flagrant 1 foul. The game was getting chippy, and the Mavericks were getting embarrassed. The Spurs were ahead 62-26, and the main problem facing the Spurs was how to keep focus for an anticipated 24 more minutes of extended garbage time.
Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the league, but being down by 36 at the half is a tall order for anyone. The Mavs had a little run to start the second half, but Pachulia continued his dirty play from the first half, elbowing Kawhi in the neck, and going after Danny Green's legs on a loose ball, leading to a rare retaliation from Green. Thankfully for the Spurs, he was ejected with 7:15 left in the third after taunting on a dunk. Spurs fans breathed a sigh of relief, after watching the guy play like a pro wrestling heel for about 30 minutes, it only seemed to be a matter of time before he hurt someone. If you'll remember he had some questionable fouls in the first meeting between the teams.
Feels like a good time for this photo to resurface pic.twitter.com/JwzGtLBNL7— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) February 6, 2016
The Mavericks were losing their composure, as Wesley Matthews got a foul and a tech. But late in the quarter, they started to play basketball. Still hopelessly behind, they at least played like they wanted to be a professional basketball team, which was easier to do with Pachulia out of the game. They got some good work from Dwight Powell and Raymond Felton to keep pace with the Spurs, and even make up a little ground. The Mavs outscored the Spurs 34-26 in the third, cutting the lead to just 28. The Spurs allowed 8 more points in the third quarter than they had allowed in the entire first half.
Boban was in to start the final frame, as Pop rested his front-line players. The Spurs bench wasn't playing with great energy, except for Patty Mills and Jonathon Simmons, and the Mavs cut the lead to 22 with 8 minutes left behind some energetic play from Javale McGee. Matt Bonner got a rare chance to play and even scored a couple of baskets and two free throws, but unfortunately pulled up lame after hitting a three. Rasual Butler also played well late, as the Spurs closed out the game, keeping the margin at a comfortable level.
Some Random Thoughts:
- Zaza Pachulia is a menace. I like players who play hard, but he played dirty all night until he was ejected. Messing with other player's livelihoods is just not cool. I honestly think the league should discipline him, with at least a suspension.
- The Spurs had another great game while missing some key pieces. This the best they've looked on defense since Tim has been out, although the second half defense was nothing to write home about.
- It was sad to see Matt Bonner get injured. I don't think he's going to play much this year, but he always gives great effort when he plays and also works really at keeping in shape and ready to play.
Rank and File were a great Austin band back in the 80s. You might recognize Alejandro Escovedo on guitar, who is still producing great music.
The rodeo is coming to town:
But before that, the Spurs play a getaway game tomorrow night against the Lakers at 7:30 pm in the AT&T center. It's a SEGABABA, but it's also the last home game for the Spurs in February. Hopefully the good guys will be a rude host for Kobe Bryant's last visit to San Antonio as a player. The Spurs record is now 42-8. They're in second place in the Western Conference behind some team that we're all tired of hearing about.