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Mavs Beat Spurs after 20-point Comeback

A slow start threatened to make this home game an ugly one. Midway through the first quarter of play the Spurs had outscored the Mavs 23-3. Then something happened, the bench checked in, clamped down on defense and managed to find the basket. Jalen Brunson and Reggie Bullock led that charge hitting free throws and 3 pointers respectively. Defensively, Ntilikina and Kleber were seemingly everywhere during the Mavericks 10-0 run to end the first quarter only down by 10 at 25-15.

The Mavericks continued that run well into the second quarter outscoring the Spurs 20-5 to take the lead at 30-29 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Maxi and Jalen Brunson. After starting the game at a minuscule 9% shooting, the Mavericks managed to pull their way back to 40% with 6:05 left after another 3-pointer by Kleber that gave the Mavs a 36-29 lead. Kleber followed that 3 with a huge block on Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, Kleber would eventually set a new career high with 6 blocks in this game. Luka Doncic hit his first 3 of the game, a fading corner rainbow that led to a Spurs timeout at 3:43 left in the half. Unfortunately, that 3 was taken away during the timeout when officials realized that Doncic had his heel on the out of bounds line. After back to back buckets by Forbes and and Murray the Spurs took the lead back at 44-42. Luka hit a long 28-foot straight-away 3-pointer to take the lead again but Forbes had the last laugh hitting a buzzer beating wide open king ball shot to put the Spurs up 49-47 heading into the half.

The The Spurs took advantage of a few bad Mavericks possessions to start the third and took a 55-50 lead. Finney-Smith and Hardaway Jr. hit back-to-back threes split by a Poppovich timeout to take a one point lead. Some fortunate bounces for the Spurs saw them back on top for 73-70 with 3 minutes left in the third before Frank Ntilikina connected on for 3 on an assist by Jalen Brunson. Maxi Kleber hit from deep to put the Mavs up by two but the Maverick got to 5 fouls with 7 seconds left in the third and the Spurs managed to hit from the charity strip to tie the game at 76-all going in to the fourth quarter.

The fourth started with a promising 3&D lineup of Brunson, Ntilikina, Bullock, Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber. That lineup in particular seems to play very well together and eventually took a lead after a Kleber 3 and a pair of Brunson floaters. The Mavericks held on to a small lead until the 4 minute mark of the quarter

…then Luka finally happened…

After a fairly quiet game for the MVP caliber player Luka managed to sink back-to-back step back 3-pointers from the top of the key put the Mavs up 10 at 100-90. Shortly after that, Kleber recorded his 6th block of the game, cementing this game as arguably the best defensive performance of his career. The Spurs managed to pull within 4 with 11 seconds left in the game after some frantic defense and missed Maverick free throws. In the end the Mavericks managed to hold on for a 104-99 win over their in-state rival San Antonio Spurs.

Player of the Game has to go to Maxi Kleber with his 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 Blocks. There were several times in the second half of this game when Spurs players visibly altered their course to the basket because they saw Maxi coming.

Honorable Mention is Jalen Brunson. With 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in his 30 minutes off the bench, Brunson began his tangible quest for 6th man of the year. When Brunson and Kleber checked in down 20 points in the first quarter they completely altered the tone of the game.

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