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San Antonio vs. Dallas, Final Score: Spurs start hot, finish cold in 104-99 loss to Mavs

An early 20-point lead wasn’t enough to avoid a third-straight loss

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A wildly up-and down game ended with San Antonio on the wrong side of the scoreboard Thursday night as the Southwest Division rival Dallas Mavericks edged the Spurs out in the fourth quarter for a 104-99 win.

Dejounte Murray nearly earned a second-straight triple-double, scoring a season-high 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jakob Poeltl added another double-double with 14-points and 13-rebounds. Luka Doncic had a team-high 25 points for Dallas, followed by Jalen Brunson with 19 off the bench.

Observations

  • The Mavericks announced a few hours before the game that Kristaps Porzingis would sit out Thursday night with lower back tightness. That sounded like good news at first, but Porzingis has been downright terrible in the Mavs’ first three games, averaging just 12.7 points while shooting 30.2% from the field and 23.5% from deep. How much was it going to hurt them, really?
  • Dallas started Reggie Bullock in Porzingis’ place. Without a double-big frontcourt to worry about, Pop felt comfortable going small with his starting five, too. Doug McDermott also missed Thursday’s game with right knee soreness and the head coach gave Lonnie Walker his first starting nod of the season, and for good reason — Walker’s score 38 points over the last two games combined.
  • The one thing Porzingis has brought consistently is rim protection, averaging 2.0 blocks per game. Without the big man in the middle, the Spurs were free to attack the rim. Six of the team’s first 10 points came inside the paint. The team ended the first quarter with 10 points inside and four points from free throws earned from driving to the goal.
  • Luka Doncic started the game off missing his first three shots and committing two turnovers. His first score came when he finally got Dejounte Murray mismatched against him on the block. But by then, the Spurs were already leading 18-1.
  • Sean Elliott brought up a good point on the broadcast: When the Spurs get into dry spells, who’s going to pull them out of it? The Silver and Black used to always have an All-Star to turn to. Now they don’t. They got into a bad cold streak late in the first quarter, which carried over early into the second. Bryn Forbes hit a triple with 4:51 left in the first to put San Antonio up 23-3. But the Spurs didn’t make another field goal until the 7:57 mark of the second quarter. Luka went to the bench 2:36 before the end of the first, which should’ve been San Antonio’s cue to hit the gas. Instead, the Mavs closed the period on a 10-0 run. The Spurs got away from going inside, missing their first seven shots of the second — six of them coming outside the lane. Seven different players took shots during the drought, nobody getting one to drop. Jakob Poeltl ended the run with a layup at the 7:57 mark of the second.
  • The Spurs’ saving grace was a hot first half from Bryn Forbes. After Dallas pulled ahead 36-29, Forbes closed the second quarter with three 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater from the right wing that pushed San Antonio back in front, 49-47. The veteran had a team-high 12 points at the half on 4-5 shooting from outside.
  • It was a pretty back-and-forth third quarter. The Mavs tied it back up at 76-76. There’s two Spurs with a positive plus/minus: Jakob (aka Blockob) Poeltl and Dejounte. Blockob has swatted two shots at this point to along with 12 points and 12 boards. Dallas’ bigs haven’t played well against him either. Murray is leading the team now with 18 points and has been matched up with Luka for most of the night. The preseason MVP favorite had a slow first half with just seven points, but started heating up in the third and is now up to 15. It’s also worth noting Murray’s forced him to commit five turnovers already — tied for his season-high.
  • Luka played lights out in the fourth quarter, seeking out mismatches and getting his teammates involved in the pick-and-roll. The Spurs struggled again with finding a go-to guy on offense. Derrick White and Lonnie Walker got going early in the period, but it didn’t last and Dallas pulled ahead by nine.
  • San Antonio’s defense got the team back into it, though. A steal-and-score by Keldon Johnson made it 102-96. Luka was fouled on the other end and missed a pair of free throws. Dejounte dropped in a trey from the left wing to make it a one-score game, then stole the ball away from Luka on the next possession. But the Spurs couldn’t convert it to more points. Pop will no doubt develop many of the team’s young players into good players on both ends of the ball. But the bigger challenge will be developing a killer in crunch time.

For the Mavericks fans’ perspective, visit Mavs Money Ball.

The Spurs will play the second game of their three game road trip on Saturday at the home of the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. Tip-off will be at 7:00 PM CT on Bally Sports SW.