Spurs fans were clamoring for LaMarcus Aldridge to be no longer on the team because the general consensus was that he hurt the defense too much. Now with LaMarcus gone, the uncomfortable truth emerges that the Spurs defense isn’t that great without him, as Luka Doncic exploited the slow rotations with crisp passes and misdirection as the Mavericks took over in the final few minutes and overwhelmed the young guys in Silver and Black. Kristaps Porzingas dominated the paint in the final moments, negating the defense with timely offensive rebounds for the Ponies. It was another disappointing loss for San Antonio, but they don’t have much time to think it over as they play the Magic in San Antonio on Friday.
- LaMarcus Aldridge has been a great Spur, but he joined the team when it was on a downward arc, mostly due to the influence of the best player on the team at the time who took off just as the team was starting to come together for another title run. Despite all of that, he did his best for the team, even if he wasn’t the greatest fit for the new team composition. He’s been a great teammate, and I’ll always appreciate his contributions. I wish him great success for the rest of his career, except when he plays the Spurs, of course.
- Patty Mills bumped into Kristaps Porzingas on a screen and sent him flying midway through the first quarter. I had no idea how strong Patty was.
- The Spurs defense after made baskets is ... less than optimal. If they other team gets the ball into play quickly, they almost have a mismatch, and quite often it turns into an easy basket. That shouldn’t happen.
- The Spurs just aren’t very good at running fast breaks. Even when they get the spacing right, it seems like the player with the ball has laser vision on a straight line path to the basket. Hardaway Jr. just had to pick a spot to stand in front of the basket to ruin more than one Spurs fast break with a charge call.
- Derrick White’s shot was off early, but he kept shooting.The Spurs will need more from him on the offensive end of the floor to have a chance in the western conference playoff race.
- The Luka v. Luka narrative didn’t live up to the billing with Rudy Gay taking the role of the bench power forward, and scoring at will. The Spurs Luka never entered the game.
The young backcourt of White and Murray started out meshing well on defense, but the offense was a bit rusty, especially for White, playing just his ninth game of the season. A pair of back to back triples from Lonnie Walker IV put the Spurs back in front midway through the quarter. Despite some sloppy defending, the Spurs led 32-27 after a quarter.
The Mavs started the second quarter on a 7-0 run, partially due to some really awful Spurs defense, which led to an early Popovich timeout. The Spurs didn’t immediately turn things around, but improved defensive effort led to Patty Mills (although it looked to me that it was White) drawing a charge on Doncic, which led to a tech on the Mavs superstar, and seemed to throw him off for much of the quarter. The Spurs led 59-52 at the half.
The Mavs came out of the locker room hot, and the Spurs defense, once again lackadaisical, let them quickly take the lead with a 13-2 run to start the third quarter, led by Luka Doncic’s slick drives to the basket. The Spurs recovered with Dejounte Murray taking over with 5 straight to tie it back up at 68. The teams traded runs, until Lonnie Walker made an incredible circus layup to retake the lead. The Spurs defense wasn’t quite good enough to hold on, and the Mavs led 87-86 at the end of three.
Luka Doncic took over the game in the final quarter for the Mavs, but the Spurs were in it, with Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills holding up their team. An weird flagrant foul from Willie Cauley-Stein shoving Poeltl into a driving Derrick White allowed the Spurs to tie it up at 95 each. A 7-0 run from the Mavs with Doncic distributing the rock to the open man ahead of the slow defensive rotations had the Spurs down 105-95 with 5:27 left. The rest of the quarter was dominated by the Mavs as Kristaps Porzingas showed he had an inside game, and kept the Spurs off the glass as the Mavs won 115-104.
This was inevitable.
What’s Next . . .
For the Mavs fans perspective, visit Mavs Moneyball.
The Spurs play the Magic Friday night in the AT&T Center, as the youth movement ramps up into the second half of the season. See you there!