In a closely matched contest throughout where no team held a double-digit lead throughout - with 13 ties and 24 lead changes - Dallas looked like it would lock away a stunning fourth quarter turnaround, but San Antonio miraculously forced overtime on a Malaki Branham to Keldon Johnson alley-oop. Once the teams went into extra time, Dallas leveraged an 13-2 run to complete their comeback win.
The Mavericks, hampered by injuries to their superstars Luka Doncic (thigh) and Kyrie Irving (foot) along with Tim Hardaway, Jr., received five 20-point scoring efforts from Christian Wood (28 points and 13 rebounds), Reggie Bullock (20 points and 13 rebounds), Josh Green (21 points and 7 rebounds), Dwight Powell (22 points and 8 rebounds), and Jaden Hardy (21 points and 6 rebounds).
In the opening stanza, the teams went back-and-forth at each other with the secondary contributors taking front stage as Hardy and Wood providied the bulk of the scoring early on. While Johnson supplied the usual strong effort for San Antonio, he received support from Romeo Langford - both doing damage from the free throw stripe.
The second period played out much like the first with other contributors stepping up, such as Dallas’ Bullock, McKinley Wright IV. Devonte Graham joined teammates Johnson and Langford in double digits during the high-scoring quarter. With the distance between the teams never leaving 2-3 possessions, the Spurs leveraged Graham’s four-point play to edge into the lead at halftime 62-60.
The Spurs rode much-needed hot shooting to storm into the lead midway through the third period. Johnson and Branham, in particular, found success in the halfcourt, while Dallas had trouble keeping up. Dallas staged a sustained comeback in the fourth on second-chance opportunities and outhustling their counterparts - particularly from Powell with Wood in foul trouble. Though they look like they had the game in hand with 1.8 seconds, Maxi Kleber’s stunning turnover allowed San Antonio to call timeout and find Johnson for a game-tying dunk to send things into overtime.
Keldon Johnson (27 points and 8 rebounds), with San Antonio missing most of its typical starters, partnered with Malaki Branham (20 points and 5 rebounds) to lead all starters in double-digit scoring. The duo received solid effort off the bench from Blake Wesley (career high 11 points).
- Looking at the NBA standings today, has there ever been only a four game difference between the 4-seed and the 12-seed in the Western Conference this late in the season?
- The sarape design on the jerseys tonight match Mamu’s collection of leg tattoos. #observations!
- The news about Charles Bassey is a gut punch. His arrival was easily one of the top five revelations in this tough season.
- It feels strange that in a league that covets shooting bigs, Davis Bertans continues to struggle on the fringe of rotation minutes for a competitor like Dallas. Right after I typed this, he bricked a three.
- When Graham goes 1-on-1, I can’t help but think of prime Kemba Walker with the herky-jerky moments and crossovers.
- Sequence of the Game #1: Late in the third period, Jones swiped the ball from an unsuspecting Mav and shredded upcourt to find an open Graham for a transition three for the game’s tenth tie.
- What Should Have Been the Best Play of the a Win: Pop drew a sneakily good out-of-bounds motion that allowed Johnson to slip a fake screen and scoot to the front of the rim to dunk home Branham’s perfect pass to send the game into overtime.
- Dominick’s Details: After being assessed a charge, a fundamentally sound spin move in the paint netted him Barlow a nice bucket early in the fourth period.
- Tonight’s 50th anniversary alumni moment highlighted the sweet shooting Mike Mitchell (Rest in Power). His midseason addition and 25+ PPG bolstered those Spurs squads to keep pace with the powerhouse Lakers teams in the 1982 and 1983 conference finals. His wife, Diana Mitchell, joined the broadcast team with the following memorable quotes: “He was one of the only vets to really pull me aside and help me out - even though we were playing the same position. I’ll be forever grateful for everything he helped me with,” (Sean recognizing Mitchell’s contribution to his early career)” “Michael was always a team player and he was always very respectful of phenonmental talent. And that you were Sean.” (Diana’s response), “I just like the run and shoot basketball... this is a great community to raise a family in.” (Diana lauding the old HemisFair Arena and the community).
- Blake’s Beat: Wesley swatted a pocket pass out of bounds late in the first frame and swiped the ball moments later - streaking down the court for a lay-up.
- Malaki’s Moments: Branham, nearing the end of the third quarter, channeled prime Rudy Gay and inner Kevin Durant by a) driving in an arc from the left wing to the right baseline for a pull-up that would have made Mike Mitchell proud and b) a stunning catch-and-shoot from the top to put San Antonio up eight.
- Jarden Hardy scored seven of Dallas’ first 13 points, while Romeo Langford countered with two buckets of his own, and Johnson wore a path to the free throw line against the Mavs. Mamukelashvili drew the rare 2-fouls-in-one) offensive foul when Wood not only elbowed him, but kneed him in the nether regions on a drive. Though a Johnson three put the Spurs up four, Wright IV’s runner tied the game. Barlow drew another offfensive foul on Wood after getting shoved and kneed near the midsection. Don’t lead with the knee people. Branham showed off his shooting touch in so many ways on his four field goals. A swooping scooper from Wesley was answered by a Green floater to close out an entertaining first period with the Spurs up 29-28.
- A stepback three by Doug McDermott and Tre Jones floater started San Antonio’s scoring in the second. A Wood bucket that didn’t involve the use of his knees and elbows, brought Dallas within one. After an awkward Gorgui Dieng pull-up that fell softly, Elliott referred to it as “old man basketball.” So much other good offfense occurred in the period, but it was Graham’s 7-point outburst that closed out the half with the Spurs up by two.
- The Mavs reclaimed the lead on threes from from Green and Maxi Kleber. Langford drew an offensive foul on a Hardy drive and his acrobatic tip-dunk helped San Antonio keep pace. Dallas’ Dwight Powell feasted deep in the paint with mismatches on guards. Johnson’s straightaway three briefly put the Spurs up five. Consecutive threes by Branham and McDermott made it 93-85. A Wood three in transition brought the Mavs within five, but Wright IV inexplicably scissor-kicked Wesley as time expired to grant Blake three freebies. Wesley only made one and the Spurs left the frame up 94-88.
- In a very sloppy start to the fourth, a Bertans three broke the ice and chopped the lead in half. Langford’s second impressive tip-dunk and Wesley’s follow-up lay-in gave the Spurs a little breathing room. After Wood’s third offensive foul, a faux-exasperated Bill Land “he wants a dissertation given on every call against him - C’MON!” Another Bertans three drew Dallas within two. Wesley’s kinetic motor on the offensive boards helped draw Wood’s fitfh foul, and his pull-up jumper reminiscent of Chris Paul’s signature move kept San Antonio up by four. Dallas’ Green and Hardy attacked the soft middle with abandon and the team flew into the foul bonus halfway through. A Mamu three put his team up nine, but a flurry of Powell points brought the Mavs within three.
- A stepback three by Hardy tied things at 114. Another clutch Mamu three (it is a thing now!) pushed San Antonio ahead. Hardy’s free throws cut the lead to one. After a Johnson turnover, Wood was fouled in transition and converted both free throws. A travel on Branham and Hardy’s ensuing free throws made it 120-117 Mavs. Jones’ floater tumbled off the rim, but Johnson’s rebound off a Wood airball and outlet to a streaking Jones netted a lay-up to make it 120-119. Hardy made one of two free throws. After the final San Antonio timeout, a hopeful drive by Johnson was initially called a foul on Kleber, and the challenge was unsuccessful for the Mavs. Johnson short-armed the first attempt, and commited a lane violation on the second one to seal the loss.
- With 1.8 seconds, Kleber threw the inbounds several yards over Woods’ head to return possession back to San Antonio. The Spurs’ final possession: Branham found Johnson, after leading Kleber to believe he would set a pick, for an alley-oop dunk that took only 0.3 seconds off the clock. Bullock dribbled out the clock seemingly unaware of the time he would have had to dribble and gather.
- In overtime, Johnson’s lay-up attempt went in-and-out, while Green’s three at the other end clanged off the backboard. Branham’s free throws were answered by a pair of Wood buckets. Bullock’s corner three put Dallas up five. Johnson fumbled the ball out of bounds, and a Powell lay-up sealed the win for the Mavs.
For the Mavericks fan’s perspective, please visit Mavs Moneyball.
San Antonio gets a well-deserved night off tomorrow before taking on Desmond Bane and the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night at 7:00 PM CDT.