Game 80: Mavs vs. Spurs

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Highlights: Spurs vs. Mavericks

Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 24 points but the good guys couldn't come away with a win over the I-35 rival Spurs Thursday night.

DALLAS — Returning home from an unbeaten four-game road trip, the Dallas Mavericks looked to continue trending in the right direction Thursday night while moving one step closer to securing a playoff spot.

Falling in their first three showdowns against the Southwest Division champion San Antonio Spurs, the Mavericks attempted to avoid a season series sweep at the hands of their in-state rivals. Meanwhile, the Mavs tried to cut their magic number of two to clinch a playoff berth in half with a win.

However, even without their floor general in the lineup, the Spurs would still present a formidable challenge. And after suffering a 109-100 defeat, the Mavericks (48-32) fell to a ninth straight loss to the Spurs (61-18) in the overall series.

“They are a special team,” Mavs forward Shawn Marion said with a great amount of respect for the rival Spurs. “It’s a hard matchup for us, and for some reason we just have a hard time with the Spurs. … It is what it is. They just have our number.”

Despite the absence of Spurs point guard Tony Parker (back) for a second straight game, the Mavericks would surrender the first seven points of the night to the visiting San Antonio team. Spurs sharpshooter Danny Green then caught fire from 3-point range, lifting San Antonio to an early double-digit lead.

The Spurs would then survive a brief scare a short time later as big man Tim Duncan came down awkwardly while holding his right knee following a defensive rebound, heading to the locker room with 5:58 left in the opening period before immediately returning to the floor. San Antonio then slid into the second stanza with a 30-22 advantage.

“I thought we were a little slow today. We’ve got to set a better tone,” 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said of the early deficit.

One game after moving into 10th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list by passing Oscar Robertson (26,710), Nowitzki looked to assert himself following a scoreless opening quarter. The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week then received some help from his supporting cast as the Mavs inched closer.

Sixth man Vince Carter then went on the attack, entering the night 13 points away from passing Adrian Dantley (23,177) for 25th on the league’s all-time scoring chart. And after big man Brandan Wright’s slam was proceeded by a technical on Duncan for arguing with officials, the Mavs surged in front by as many as six before taking a 51-49 edge into the halftime intermission.

Led by Nowitzki’s 12 first-half points on 5-of-9 shooting, the Mavericks outshot the Spurs through two quarters of play, 46.5 percent to 39.5 percent. The Mavs also overcame Spurs point guard Patty Mills’ 13 points in the first 24 minutes of play, holding a 23-21 rebounding edge and scoring 11 points off San Antonio’s seven turnovers.

With Duncan back on the attack, it wouldn’t take long for the Mavs to find themselves on the downside of the scoreboard following a 6-0 run by the Spurs to open the third. The Spurs’ deadly perimeter shooters then created even more of a separation between the squads, knocking down five 3-pointers in the period. And after once again falling into an 11-point hole in the period, the Mavs looked up to see an 83-72 deficit entering the fourth quarter.

“We couldn’t get the stops we wanted to,” Marion confessed. “And the times we did it seemed like they’d make another run at us.”

With his team unable to gain any traction early in the fourth, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was forced to burn a timeout with 10:09 remaining after Manu Ginobili’s corner trey put the Spurs up 88-72. Nowitzki then tried to put his team on his back on the offensive end while the Dallas defense scrambled for stops. But a 6-0 Dallas spurt would quickly be quieted by Green’s fifth 3-pointer of the night. Mills took it from there, continuing to torch Dallas defenders with perimeter jumpers to keep the Mavs at bay.

Carlisle then looked for a spark, switching to a three-guard lineup of Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis and reserve Devin Harris. The Spurs countered by feeding Duncan and center Tiago Splitter inside. A late 8-0 Dallas run would then be extinguished by Kawhi Leonard’s dagger triple to stretch San Antonio’s lead to 107-98 with 56.9 seconds remaining.

The two teams pulled their top contributors a short time later as the Spurs finished off the win with their reserves.

“We had so many breakdowns all over the floor,” Harris admitted. “We gave up a lot of threes. I mean, they move the ball so well, they take up every ounce of the shot clock and make you guard for 24 (seconds), and they take advantage of your mistakes and they definitely make you pay for them.”

Scoring 24 points on 10-of-22 shooting, Ellis led four Mavericks in double figures during a losing effort. Nowitzki added 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting while pulling down six rebounds. Meanwhile, Calderon pitched in 14 points and Marion scored 12 points in the first unit. The Mavs’ 47 percent shooting also bettered the Spurs’ 43.2 percent, adding 20 points off San Antonio’s 13 turnovers while surrendering 12 points off their own 10 giveaways.

Mills led all five San Antonio starters in double figures with a game-high 26 points, hitting nine of 25 shots from the field and six of 11 from three-point range. Leonard also added a monster 16-point, 16-rebound night as the Spurs knocked down 16 of 34 three-point attempts, in addition to collecting a 48-42 advantage on the glass and 35-19 margin in fast-break points.

“They’ve got a lot of shooters out there who spread the floor,” Nowitzki said. “I just didn’t think we were sharp enough on the defensive end. They do shoot a lot of threes and that means there’s going to be some long rebounds, but we’ve just got to get to more of those. I think they had 15 offensive rebounds, and if we cut that in half I think we’re in great shape tonight. But, if you make a mistake and you give up an offensive rebound, they hit you with a three or another basket. It was a tough night. We just didn’t make enough plays on the defensive end.”

“Most of our problems were in transition,” Carlisle added. “We just didn’t find them quick enough. We just weren’t good enough in that area. It was an area that was easily identifiable as one of the big keys to the game. We just came up short there.”

Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center on Saturday for their regular-season home finale, hosting the Phoenix Suns. The season series is tied at 1-1. The game will air locally on TXA 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting


All Stats

K. Leonard, F 36 5-14 2-6 4-5 6 10 16 5 2 0 2 2 10 16
T. Duncan, F 39 7-12 0-0 6-9 4 11 15 2 1 1 3 3 -4 20
T. Splitter, C 28 6-10 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 1 0 0 1 3 39 12
D. Green, G 22 5-9 5-9 0-0 0 5 5 1 1 0 0 1 13 15
P. Mills, G 35 9-25 6-11 2-2 0 2 2 6 2 0 0 2 26 26
B. Diaw 19 0-3 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 0 1 0 1 3 -15 0
M. Ginobili 28 4-8 2-4 0-0 0 2 2 7 2 0 5 2 -6 10
C. Joseph 8 0-0 0-0 3-4 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 -15 3
M. Belinelli 20 2-7 1-4 2-2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 -3 7
A. Daye 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Ayres 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
A. Baynes 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
M. Bonner 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. James 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
T. Parker 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   38-88 16-34 17-22 15 33 48 22 9 1 12 22   109
    43.2% 47.1%                      

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All Stats

S. Marion, F 29 5-7 2-3 0-0 0 3 3 1 0 2 2 2 -17 12
D. Nowitzki, F 34 8-14 0-0 3-5 0 6 6 1 1 0 0 1 -10 19
S. Dalembert, C 19 1-5 0-0 0-0 4 7 11 1 0 1 0 2 -23 2
M. Ellis, G 37 10-22 0-1 4-4 0 4 4 4 1 0 2 3 -8 24
J. Calderon, G 27 5-11 2-3 2-2 0 3 3 1 0 0 2 0 -22 14
V. Carter 27 2-5 0-0 2-2 0 4 4 2 0 1 0 3 2 6
D. Harris 27 1-8 1-5 5-6 0 2 2 4 3 1 2 0 22 8
D. Blair 8 2-3 0-0 1-2 2 2 4 1 0 0 1 4 8 5
J. Crowder 9 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 0
B. Wright 17 4-6 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 0 0 0 1 1 1 8
S. Larkin 0 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2
B. James 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
W. Ellington 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
R. Ledo 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
G. Mekel 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   39-83 5-12 17-21 8 34 42 16 5 5 10 17   100
    47.0% 41.7%                      

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Follow Slam

Brandan Wright grabs the loose ball and finishes with a powerful slam.

Steal Leads to Slam

Brandan Wright finishes with a powerful slam.

Harris to Wright

Brandan Wright takes the pass and finishes with authority.

Dalembert to Marion

Samuel Dalembert throws a nice pass to Shawn Marion, who finishes with an easy slam.

Dalembert’s Big Block

Samuel Dalembert blocks Tim Duncan's shot during the second quarter.

Shootaround: Jose Calderon

Mavs PG Jose Calderon comments on Thursday's tilt against the Spurs, Vince Carter's qualifications for Sixth Man of the Year and more.

Shootaround: Devin Harris

Mavs G Devin Harris dishes on tonight's matchup against a San Antonio team without Tony Parker, how important it is to play the last few games with desperation and more.

Shootaround: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle says it's all about playing hard and paying attention to detail Thursday night against the Spurs.

DALLAS — After rallying from a 4-4 stretch during a franchise-record homestand by going unbeaten on their four-game road trip, the Dallas Mavericks return home to face another tall order.

Facing a San Antonio Spurs team that has beaten them eight straight times, the Mavericks (48-31) will try to carry the momentum of their road trip to their home floor. However, the Mavericks know they’ll have to elevate their play even more so against the team with the NBA’s best record and the Southwest Division champion in order to avoid the season series sweep.

“You know, they’re a great team and we needed to play better, so tonight we’ve got another opportunity and it’s all about hard play and doing the details things well,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said while looking back to the three previous losses to the Spurs. “You know, if you do that, you give yourself a chance. And if you don’t do it against them, you know, they make you pay in so many areas. So, we’re just going to have to be really good, really consistent and we’re going to have to do things really hard.”

Hoping that their momentum on the road traveled with them back to Dallas, the Mavs will try to take advantage of Spurs point guard Tony Parker’s absence as he misses his second straight game due to a minor back injury.

Parker has averaged 23.3 points and 5.7 assists on 54.2 percent shooting against the Mavs in the Spurs’ three wins this season. However, even with the cat-quick guard sidelined for the Spurs (60-18), the Mavericks will still admittedly have a hard time downing their in-state rivals to cut their magic number of two in half to clinch a playoff berth.

“I don’t know if it’s an advantage against a team like San Antonio. … It doesn’t matter who they’re missing,” point guard Jose Calderon confessed. “They’re still playing the same way, they’re still tough to beat and they’re still tough to play against, so we’ve got to be ready. We know what we’ve got to do. We were close the last time we played in San Antonio and it was the closest one of all the games we’ve played, so that’s kind of the key. We’ve got to get a good pace, try to play our game and try to be successful. It’s a big game for us.”

“I mean, with no Tony Parker they’re still just as dangerous a team,” reserve Devin Harris added. “They’ve shown that they can play without their Big 3 and still get victories, so I think they’re still dangerous. And they’re still going to present a tough task for us, but we’ve got to play like we are desperate.”

Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center on Thursday to host the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio leads the season series 3-0. The game will air nationally on TNT at 7 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting

DALLAS — Taking his spot amongst the greatest scorers of all time, 12-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki further cemented his place in NBA lore Tuesday night while helping the Dallas Mavericks move closer to clinching a playoff spot.

Led by Nowitzki’s 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, the Mavericks (48-31) finished off an unbeaten four-game road trip with a 95-83 victory over the Utah Jazz. In the process, Nowitzki met yet another career milestone, passing Oscar Robertson (26,710) for 10th on the league’s all-time scoring list. Now, after being named Western Conference Player of the Week for averaging 25.3 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 55.7 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from three-point range for games played March 31 through April 6, the 7-footer will look to move the Mavericks closer to returning to the postseason.

“This is my 30th year in the NBA and one of the few times I’ve truly been in awe of an accomplishment,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki’s scoring feat. “You know, top 10 all-time scorers is an unbelievable accomplishment, because it’s a level of excellence that’s beyond belief and then it’s being able to do it over an extended period of time with consistency. So, you know, one of the really unique accomplishments and he’s going to keep eating up more people. You know, he’s got a long way to go.”

“It’s definitely surreal,” Nowitzki modestly added. “You know, passing the Big O and knowing that only nine guys ever in this league scored more than me, that’s crazy to think. From where I came from, a little dump in Wurzburg, Germany, it’s been an amazing ride. So, you know, hopefully I can have a couple more good years and we’ll see where I end up.” 

However, while meeting the Southwest Division champion San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, Nowitzki and the Mavs figure to face a daunting task. And with Nowitzki averaging just 15.4 points on 40.2 percent shooting during Dallas’ eight-game losing streak to the Spurs (60-18), the Mavs will undoubtedly have a challenge on their hands in front of a nationally-televised audience.

But the Mavericks will also have an opportunity to cut their magic number of two to clinch a playoff berth in half with a win, entering the night in the seventh position in the West standings with a one-half game edge over Phoenix and 1 1/2-game lead over Memphis in the three-team race for the final two postseason spots. And with a cast of veterans hungry to lead the team back to the playoffs after missing out and seeing the franchise’s 12-year streak of consecutive postseason appearances end following the 2012-13 campaign, the Mavs will look to inch closer to accomplishing their goal with a win over their in-state rivals.

“I just think everyone’s locked in to what we’re trying to do,” sixth man Vince Carter said. “We’re trying to make that playoff spot and it means something. And a lot of these guys weren’t here last year for the disappointment of breaking the streak, but it feels like they were because it all means something. And everybody is coming together and ready to go.”

Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center on Thursday to host the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio leads the season series 3-0. The game will air nationally on TNT at 7 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting