DALLAS — After holding their own for 48 minutes against the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs before eventually suffering a 96-91 loss Monday night on the road, the Dallas Mavericks will look to learn from the costly mistakes that proved to be the difference down the stretch.
Playing without 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain), starting point guard Deron Williams (left calf strain), center Andrew Bogut (calf) and fellow veterans J.J. Barea (left calf strain) and Devin Harris (right great toe sprain), the Mavericks (2-11) stepped into the AT&T Center with only 10 players available. The Mavs also hoped to take advantage of a San Antonio squad that opted to rest perennial All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge and former NBA Finals MVP Tony Parker, attempting to steal a much-needed road win. Instead, the shorthanded Mavs would fail to hold on to a late fourth-quarter lead. And after falling to their sixth straight loss, the Mavs admittedly felt like they let a win slip through their fingers.
“I mean, we went into this expecting to win it,” swingman Wesley Matthews said after the loss. “I know no one else did, but we did. And that’s how we played. We played well enough to win the game. Even during a couple of stretches that weren’t so well, we still played well enough to win the game. This team didn’t have 100 points, and this could have been ours.”
Led by sharpshooter Seth Curry’s career high-tying 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 5 of 10 from three-point range, the Mavericks finished the night with three scorers in double figures as Matthews and versatile forward Harrison Barnes pitched in 20 points apiece. The Mavs also outshot the Spurs for the night, 47.3 percent to 46.7 percent, finishing with a 40-39 rebounding edge and converting San Antonio’s 14 turnovers into 14 points.
However, after committing their own 17 giveaways and allowing 16 points at the other end of the floor off the miscues, the Mavericks know they must play a more efficient game moving forward. That said, the Mavs will look to make the proper adjustments in time for Wednesday’s matchup at home against the high-octane Los Angeles Clippers.
“You know, we had some turnovers that were ill timed,” Barnes confessed. “We had some turnovers that led to fast breaks, and then just a few breakdowns where they just got wide-open looks. You know, we just can’t have that.
“We were right there,” he added. “Seth played great and was hitting shots, getting in the paint. Wes was hitting shots and was getting in the paint as well, so it was great from that perspective. We battled, but we just came up short.”
The Mavericks committed eight turnovers in the fourth quarter alone Monday night, which led to 12 San Antonio points at the other end during the period. The Spurs also outscored the Mavs during the last quarter, 23-18, overshadowing Dallas’ 14-8 rebounding edge and three lead changes down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Dallas defense scrambled to hold the Spurs to 7-of-20 shooting during the final 12 minutes of play, locking in without several of the team’s top offensive options available. And it’s that defensive execution that Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says the team can take moving forward against the NBA-best Clippers (13-2) on Wednesday.
“A lot of positives,” Carlisle said after Monday’s loss. “You know, it comes down to a game of inches. The untimely turnovers and a few unfortunate misses when we had open looks were the difference, but we’re doing an awful lot of things well.”
He added: “It comes down to probably four or five or six plays during the second half that we just were unable to make. Either a turnover that shouldn’t happen or a shot that we just needed to knock in, so it’s tough. But the guys are fighting their (tails) off, and there’s a lot of positives. We’ve got to build on the positives.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Wednesday, hosting the Los Angeles Clippers. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. It will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Andrew Bogut (calf) — out
Devin Harris (right great toe sprain) — out
J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out
Deron Williams (left calf strain) — out
Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain) — out