Image Credit: @Spurs Twitter
On Friday, the Dallas Mavericks took a trip down to San Antonio to play the Spurs in their final game of their three game road trip. This is the Mavericks 15th game of the season, in their 11th different city as they have dealt with health and safety protocol and injury absences. After this matchup, 13 of their next 17 games will come at home in the American Airlines Center.
On Wednesday, the Mavericks played the Indiana Pacers looking to end their three game losing streak. The Mavericks were in control for most of the game as the Pacers threatened and eventually took a 91-88 lead in the fourth quarter. A crucial 13-3 run by the Mavericks was enough to overcome the Pacers threat and gradually pulled away to seal the victory. Kristaps Porzingis finished with season-high of 27 points and 12 rebounds while Luka Doncic added another triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as they would lead the Mavericks to a 124-111 win to end the three game losing streak. The Mavericks introduced a “Defensive Player of the Game” belt following this game that would be rewarded to the player who contributes the most on defense and as a result the first holder of the belt would belong to Willie Cauley-Stein.
The San Antonio Spurs are coming into this game going 3-2 in their last five games that would result in their record being 8-7 on the season. Their most recent game took place on Wednesday which resulted in a 121-99 blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors. Coming into this season, the Spurs lost Marco Belinelli in free agency as he went to go play in Italy. The Spurs had two picks in the NBA draft which resulted in selecting Devin Vassell (11th overall) and Tre Jones (41st overall), so far they had minimal impact on the team as they averaged 7.9 points per game combined. This team is very accustomed to making the playoffs every year but missed the playoffs last season which resulted in snapping an NBA record-tying 22 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs. The Spurs are always a threat in the western conference especially when you have Greg Popovich coaching the team. The Spurs look to try to start a new playoff streak this season with the trio of DeMar DeRozan, DeJonte Murray and LaMarcus Aldridge leading the team.
Entering this game, the Mavericks are no secret to these Spurs as they had some spectacular moments in facing each other. Last season, the Mavericks took the regular season series by beating the Spurs in three of the four meetings but the Spurs hold the most recent victory as they beat the Mavericks on March 10th, 2019. Despite losing the season series last season, the Spurs have won 30 of the last 39 meetings, including 17 of the last 19 in San Antonio. If you recall, it was the Spurs that was the final game in the career of Dirk Nowitzki, which resulted in a 105-94 victory for the Spurs on April 10th, 2019. Overall, the San Antonio Spurs hold the bragging rights over their in-state rival Dallas Mavericks by leading the all-time series with a record of 113-71.
The Dallas Mavericks started this game with the same lineup that was victorious last game by having Josh Green and Tim Hardaway Jr in the starting five. A quick five points by Kristaps Porzingis got things going for the Mavericks as this is the type of start and rhythm you would like to get to begin a game. A scary moment for the Spurs as Dejonte Murray came down awkwardly on Kristaps Porzingis foot and would head into the locker room to get further results on the extent of the injury. The Mavericks would build on Kristaps Porzingis run as they extend the run to 9-2 with a couple of buckets from Luka Doncic. The Mavericks began the game on fire by making their first five field goals of the game as this was a tremendous start for the Mavericks. The Mavericks were making it look so easy by getting wide open looks as they looked like they were having a “fiesta” on the court. The Spurs found the right track as they were able to climb back to cut it within four points with 6:52 left in the first quarter. Luka Doncic was being his usual self by scoring or assisting on all of the Mavericks points in the first quarter as they continue to build on their lead. A personal 9-0 run by LaMarcus Aldridge would stop the Mavericks party as he was able to draw the Spurs back within two points which would force Rick Carlisle to call a timeout with 4:52 left in the quarter to stop the bleeding. Coming out of the timeout, the Spurs would continue their hot three point shooting as Rudy Gay made one to give the Spurs their first lead of the game. Luka Doncic would end the Spurs scoring run as he would find Willie Cauley-Stein for the alley oop but the threes continue to hit for the Spurs as LaMarcus Aldridge made it five straight threes for the Spurs to keep their lead. However, Luka Doncic would get the lead right back for the Mavericks as he would hit a 9-foot shot to extend the lead back to three in the final minutes of the quarter. This fiesta first quarter would end with the Mavericks leading the Spurs 37-34. Luka Doncic saw the fiesta theme court and wanted in on the action as he would score 19 of the Mavericks 37 points in the first quarter. The Spurs responded right back by having fun on the three point line as they would make 7 of 10 (70%) from behind the arc.
The Spurs were matching up with the Mavericks to begin the second quarter as they would hit their shots on the first couple of possessions. The Mavericks had other plans as they kept their rhythm going by going on a 12-4 run that featured a couple of shots made by Tim Hardaway Jr and Jalen Brunson. Greg Popovich was forced to call a timeout in hopes of ending the Mavericks party on their home court. Coming off the Spurs timeout, DeMar DeRozan would hit a 9-foot shot to end the Mavericks fun that featured a 9-0 run. These Mavericks were playing with extreme confidence as Kristaps Porzingis continued his hot shooting by hitting a three point jumper. The Mavericks have made 6 of 7 field goals taken in the second before a Jalen Brunson 26-foot miss. The Spurs lack of defense in the second quarter would lead to another Mavericks run as they can’t afford to give the Mavericks any more runs otherwise the game would end sooner rather than later. A Josh Green thunderous dunk off the Spurs turnover would give the Mavericks a 59-41 lead with 6:21 left in the second quarter. The Spurs were getting the boot early on in this game as they tried to find their mojo. Keldon Johnson did the Spurs a favor by making a two-point shot in hopes of drawing some momentum that resulted in a Mavericks timeout. Coming out of the timeout, a defense-to-offense took place as Trey Burke stole a bad LaMarcus Aldridge pass to capitalize it for two points on the other end as the Mavericks started to pull away from the Spurs. The Spurs would need a boot the size of “Big Tex” if they want to remain in this game as the game was slowly driving away from them. Slowly but surely the boot was growing as the Spurs started to creep in on the Mavericks by cutting the deficit down to eight points with Keldon Johnson hitting a layup off the Lonnie Walker assist. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Mavericks would end their rodeo by taking a 68-58 lead. The Mavericks came to play as four of the five starters had 10 points with the exception of Josh Green. Luka Doncic would bring his “Magic” to the AT&T Center as he exploded for 21 points on 8 of 15 shooting leading the team. The Spurs were led by DeMar DeRozan 15 points in the first half as they struggled containing the ball by having six turnovers. The Spurs couldn’t get their hot three point shooting in the first quarter to continue as they only made only one from behind the arc in the second quarter. The Mavericks offense was killing it in the first half as they were getting whatever looks they wanted and it showed as they shot 52% from the field on 26 of 50 shooting. It seemed like the Mavericks were playing with a piñata as they were having so much fun while the Spurs looked like they wanted to leave the party early.
Coming out of the half, the Spurs learned that Dejonte Murray would not return to the game after suffering an ankle injury earlier in the game as that would be a big blow to these struggling Spurs. The Mavericks continue to remain in the drivers seat as they wanted the fiesta to continue on with Tim Hardaway Jr driving to the lane to make a layup. Greg Popovich would call a timeout as he’s clearly frustrated with the lack of energy by the Spurs as the Mavericks took a 72-62 lead with 9:14 left in the third quarter. Coming off the Spurs timeout, Patty Mills would give the Spurs some energy as he would hit a pull-up jump shot to come within eight points of the Mavericks. Luka Doncic kept his good night going as he would hit a 5-foot shot to give him 23 points so far in this game. As the Spurs continue to play sloppy, the only thing they had going for them is their three point shooting as they would need to hit a couple of those to find themselves back in the game. The Mavericks would increase their lead to 14 as part of a 7-0 run with Trey Burke hitting a 27-foot three pointer. The Spurs would ruin the Mavericks run as DeMar DeRozan and Devin Vassell would hit shots that resulted in them going on a quick 5-0 run that would result in Rick Carlisle calling a timeout with 3:42 left in the quarter. Coming out of the timeout, the Mavericks would find Trey Burke and Luka Doncic for 26-foot three point jumpers on back-to-back possessions. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Mavericks would take a 95-85 lead as they head into the final quarter of this game. The quarter began with a 10 point lead for the Mavericks and would end with the same result as they look to take this to the finish line. Luka Doncic would lead his team in scoring with 30 points through three quarters of play as he seeks his sixth triple-double of the season. LaMarcus Aldridge would give the Spurs 20 points through three as they face an uphill battle against the Mavericks.
The Mavericks continue to remain control of this game as they started this fourth quarter making 2 of their first three shots to build on their lead. The Spurs would need to come out like they are swinging a big piñata if they want to have any shot whatsoever in catching up with the Mavericks. A fast break consisting of Tim Hardaway Jr making a layup would certainly not help the Spurs cause as they lead would wind up back to ten points. Greg Popovich would call a timeout with 8:39 left, in search of one last rodeo by the Spurs. The Mavericks would need to continue finding good looks and force stops on defense in order to find themselves on the winning end of this one. The Spurs would need the Mavericks to go on a scoring drought if they want to end the Mavericks fiesta. A DeMar DeRozan two point would greatly benefit the Spurs as they cut the lead to within eight points but Jalen Brunson would answer to increase the lead back to ten points. Time is running out for the Spurs as they would need to get stops on defense and get quick points in transition. A Trey Burke “And-1” would not help the Spurs as he would complete the three point play to increase the lead to thirteen points with 6:18 left in the game. Again the Spurs came storming back to try one last effort at tying this game but there was Luka Doncic making a layup to keep the Mavericks in the drivers seat. Rick Carlisle would call timeout with 3:52 left in the game as he saw the Mavericks losing ground with the Spurs. All of a sudden the Spurs were able to make it a six point game as MFFL’s hope the Mavericks can finish the game strong. The Spurs had a chance to make it a three point game but Patty Mills couldn’t hit the 26-foot three point jumper. However, they were able to make it a four point game as Luka Doncic picked up his fifth personal foul in the game with DeMar DeRozan making both of his free-throws. A 7-0 San Antonio run would cut it within two points as all of a sudden the Mavericks found themselves in danger with 1:22 left in the game. You have to give the Spurs and Greg Popovich tons of credit to comeback and make it a close game in the final minutes. The Spurs needed a big boot and they got it as they were able force the Mavericks to go cold. A pivotal point in the game as the officials would review an out of bounds call and would overturn the call giving the Spurs possession with 1:14 left as the Mavericks need create a stop. With a chance to tie the game, DeMar DoRozan couldn’t capitalize on his free-throws as he could only come within 1 point. The Mavericks desperately needed a drought buster and they would get it as they turned to Luka Doncic as he called “BANK” to increase the lead back to three points. A crucial stop on the defense would lead to Jalen Brunson hitting a clutch 23-foot shot to make it a six point game with 18.9 seconds left. The Spurs would answer by Rudy Gay hitting a quick three point shot as only 2.7 seconds came off the clock to make it a three point game with 16.2 seconds left. Kristaps Porzingis had a chance to ice the game by going to the free-throw line to increase the Mavericks lead and he did by making both of his free-throws.
This team looked great as the Mavericks came out storming by getting some good looks and good stops on defense. The Mavericks however couldn’t find an answer to the Spurs three point shooting in the first quarter. The Mavericks started to breakaway from the Spurs but like usual, they had trouble in closing out this game. The Spurs caught the Mavericks sleeping in the fourth quarter as they almost were able to steal a victory from the Mavericks. In what looked like a blowout turned out to be a game in the final seconds as this was a classic.
In the end, it was the Mavericks claiming the bragging rights by defeating their rival San Antonio Spurs 122-117. The Mavericks record improved to 8-7 on the season as they now have a two game winning streak. Another fantastic performance by Luka Doncic as he came within one rebound shy of another triple-double, he would finish with 36 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds. Besides Luka Doncic, you had Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr both scoring 21 points for the Mavericks. The Spurs did everything they could to steal a victory from the Mavericks with huge performances by DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge combining for 55 points. This was a typical Mavericks-Spurs game as you would expect as the Mavericks almost let this game slip away. The Mavericks went cold for almost four minutes in the fourth quarter but Jalen Brunson was there to ultimately seal the victory. Fortunately it was the Mavericks getting all the candy from the piñata as this turned out to be a great game. Wes Iwundu would get the “Defensive Player of the Game” belt as he played an important part into get the Mavericks over the finish line.
The Mavericks will get on interstate 35 to travel back to Dallas as they finally return home after their three game road trip which resulted in a 2-1 record. The Mavericks will face the Houston Rockets on Saturday as part of a back-to-back.