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San Antonio at Dallas, Final Score: Spurs can’t stop Doncic, lose 144-119 to Mavericks

After losing Wembanyama in pregame warmups, the Spurs couldn’t compete in the second half for a fourth consecutive loss

San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The Spurs had a bad break tonight even before the opening tip, as Victor Wembanyama stepped on the foot of a ballboy during warmups and tweaked his ankle. With their best player ruled out before the game, the Spurs had to play a patchwork lineup that actually played pretty well to start the game, trailing 66-72 at the half with a good performance on both ends from Jeremy Sochan, and hot shooting from the Spurs offense.

The Silver and Black couldn’t keep it up for the whole game, and once again, the team that came out in the second half didn’t look anything like the scrappy guys who played the Mavs even for a half, as they got outscored 445-20 in the third quarter. The onslaught continued in the fourth, as the Mavericks blew the Spurs out of the American Airlines Center, except for a garbage time mini-rally from some of the Spurs deep bench which made the final score look a little less like a blowout.

The Spurs simply had no answer for Luka Doncic, who shredded the Spurs defense in a variety of ways. When he wasn’t scoring and drawing fouls, he was making passes to wide open teammates who sank one three point shot after another and sank the hapless Spurs. The Spurs are a struggling team, but without Wembanyama, they are simply bad. There were some good minutes in the first half, but the only good thing in the second half was seeing players like Cissoko and Wesley get some exposure in extended garbage minutes as the Spurs end of the bench outplayed the Dallas B-Team and cut the lead from 40+ to 26, forcing Jason Kidd to put Dante Exum and Grant Williams back into the game to stabilize the unit.

I know it’s been a tough season so far, but the season is upon us, and it’s going to be good to spend some time with family and not worry about how our favorite sports team isn’t very good. I’m hoping for a belated Christmas present on December 26 with a good game against the Jazz. See you then.

Observations

  • Even before the game started, things took a bad turn for the Silver and Black, as Victor Wembanyama stepped on a ballboy’s foot and turned his ankle, being ruled out for the game.
  • The Spurs started out the game with aggression, getting to the paint and scoring with ease, despite the absence of their big rookie.
  • Doncic is really a terrible defender, it’s like the Spurs are playing 5 on 4 on the offensive end, it’s just too bad that there aren’t 5 players on the Spurs roster that are good enough scorers to really take advantage of that. Doncic is such a prolific scorer, his bad defense doesn’t really hurt the team that much.
  • Zach Collins picked up two early fouls, which led to some early play from Sandro Mamukelashvili. Mamu looked decent on offense, but the porous defense hurt the Spurs as the Mavs surged to a 40-29 lead at the end of the first quarter. I like Mamu as a third string center, but you’re in trouble if he’s the backup and your starter gets in foul trouble. The loss of Bassey is really significant when Wembanyama has to miss any time.
  • Luka is pretty proficient at pushing off and getting a foul called on the guy he just pushed out of the way. It must be nice to be NBA royalty.
  • Jeremy gets a lot of flak from the Spurs fan commentariat, but he’s quietly become a very good shooter on small volume. The next step should be increasing the usage, so he can become a consistent offensive threat.
  • The Spurs got hot from beyond the arc in the second quarter and took advantage of Luka Doncic not being on the court to erase most of the Dallas lead halfway through the second quarter. The Mavs surged a bit when Doncic came back into the game, but the hot shooting continued as the Spurs trailed 66-72 at the half.
  • If Luka Doncic could play 48 minutes every game, the Mavericks would be almost unbeatable. As it is, he’s playing more than 40, which seems unsustainable.
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Spurs were sluggish coming out of the locker room for the second half, and just like that, the opponents went on an extended run and put the Silver and Black down by 20, leaving players wide open three point shots on slow rotations as they quickly fell out of contention. I could pretty much cut and paste this into 80% of the recaps this season, only changing the names of the teams and players.
  • Sidy Cissoko got playing time in the third after nothing else was working, and he acquitted himself pretty well on defense. He’s definitely got the body to be an NBA player, but he’s a long way from being able to be a scoring threat, although he did get his first two NBA points on a pair of free throws.
  • Blake Wesley also got some third quarter run, with a weird Cissoko, Jones, Sochan, Wesley and Collins lineup, which actually didn’t play that terribly, given how badly things had gone before they entered the game in the third. Blake played well enough in the extended garbage minutes to warrant getting more time in the regular rotation, in my opinion. He’s could be the quickest player on the roster, and his basketball skills are vastly improved from his rookie year.
  • Mamukelashvili redeemed himself with a spectacular dunk in garbage time. He’s not a good defender, but he’s got some offensive skills, and there’s got to be some role for him in limited moments, as long as he doesn’t have to play big minutes against a scoring big.

After their big win over the Lakers, the Spurs started a new losing streak that now stands at four games. The Spurs have a few days off, playing again on the 26th against the Jazz in the Frost Center.