At least the end was quick, if not painless, for the Mavericks on Sunday afternoon.

When they looked up not long after tipoff and were behind 27-7, it was clear this season was going to end with a depressing thud. The Mavericks fell behind by 31 points in the second quarter and while they made a cosmetic rally, the San Antonio Spurs made sure their collapse since the All-Star break was complete.

The Spurs notched a 138-117 victory at American Airlines Center in the season finale for both teams. The Mavericks were 7-15 after the All-Star break.

The Mavericks were down by 71-59 at halftime. They got within seven points in the third quarter, but it was mostly just window dressing for a team that was eliminated from postseason contention on Friday in a loss to Chicago.

And so, it was a merciful end to the 82-game grind, which the Mavericks ended 38-44, 14 games worse than last season and the franchise’s worst record since Luka Dončić’s rookie season, when they were 33-49 in 2018-19.

So what happened to cause this? The Mavericks were not good after making the trade for Kyrie Irving. But they are not the first team that has needed more than a third of a season with a new, major piece to become a finished product.

“To be patient,” Jason Kidd said when asked what his message to fans would be moving forward. “The big thing is, when you’re building a championship team, you have to be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight. Success doesn’t come with one trade. It takes a couple of seasons.

“Going through that in ’08-’09, when I came here, we didn’t win right away, but we did end up with right team together to finally win a championship. So I think it’s about being patient. We love the support. To be able to sell out every night, we don’t take that for granted. But I think patience, especially with change, is needed.

“We’re not happy with the way things finished. But we promise that we’ll continue to work, push forward and we’ll get better.”

Kidd used the word “inconsistent” to describe the team this season. And there were too many losses to subpar teams for the Mavericks to overcome in the long run.

What matters now is what they can do to improve things moving forward. Irving is a free agent. Re-signing him is the No. 1 priority for management this offseason, as Mark Cuban stated last week.

That offseason begins now.

On Sunday, though, about the only thing that mattered was that it provided a chance for some Mavericks who don’t normally get playing time to shine.

Theo Pinson took advantage. The guard had 23 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists by the end of the third quarter.

It was the first time this season a Maverick not named Luka Dončić achieved a triple-double.

It was an important game for both teams in that victory meant a possible move down in the lottery standings, which could impact both the Mavericks’ chances of keeping their top-10-protected draft pick and the Spurs potentially slipping if the ping pong balls don’t go their way next month in the draft lottery.

All of which had Gregg Popovich amused. In his pregame news conference, he talked openly about whether losing ground in the lottery is a concern.

“People say, you could be first, you could be second, you could be third, you could be whatever,” Popovich said. “But the way the system is, it doesn’t really matter to me. If you’re first, second or third, everybody has a 13 percent chance of being the top pick.

“If you’re second or third, you might drop (in the lottery) to fifth or sixth. But when was the last time that you knew who the fourth through 15th players would make it in the league? You don’t know. There are failures at five. There are failures at one.”

In other words, it usually is good business to play hard, whoever is on the floor.

Which brings us to who was and wasn’t on the floor Sunday.

The season finale was lacking a lot of things – but mainly players.

The Mavericks were without Dončić (left thigh), Irving (right foot), Maxi Kleber (right hamstring), Tim Hardaway Jr. (left ankle, Reggie Bullock (rest) and Josh Green (rest).

And that was a quick roll call compared to the Spurs’ list of absentees.

Zach Collins, Devonte Graham, Keldon Johnson, Khem Birch, Doug McDermott, Charles Bassey, Jeremy Sochan, Devin Vassell and Romeo Langford all were out for the visitors.

Twitter: @ESefko

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