I had to watch this game on the TNT app, and on replay at that. Unfortunately I saw the score scroll across the screen before hitting play on the game. With mixed feelings I still hit play.
It may have just been my hopeful nature that left me disappointed. The Spurs were on a positive trend, winning eight of their last 10, and had a three-game winning streak intact. The Mavericks were coming off a loss to Phoenix that seemed to suck the life out of the franchise. I took this game for granted, and perhaps so did San Antonio.
This game meant more to Dallas than it did to San Antonio. Coach Rick Carlisle had primed the pump through the media, a la Phil Jackson, when he questioned the “soul” of the Mavs after that Phoenix loss on Sunday. Even more so, the media’s questioning of Monte Ellis’ shot selection in that game, and dreadful performance overall, lit a fire under the guard. Against the Spurs he exploded for 38 points, matching his season high. He is far from the best guard in the league, but he is a matchup nightmare for the Spurs. In the three games this season he is averaging 34 points. As we look forward to the playoffs, the Spurs will have to address their back court defense. Explosive guards like Ellis seem to eat them up going to the rim.
Dirk had his familiar double-double scoring 15 points and gathering 13 rebounds.
The only true positive takeaway for the Spurs was that they managed to lose this game but rest their players- as opposed to their tendency to force tight games or overtime, and still lose. The Big-Three averaged 22 minutes of playing time in this loss. They will need it as they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in their second back-to-back in 10 days.
This is a Spurs-column so I don’t want to be too Mavs-heavy, but this is truly an amazing stat. Dallas hasn’t lost a single game when leading after three quarters (33-0). They are showing the ability to grind out games with a lead and put teams away. A characteristic that was typically reserved or the Spurs.