It was another frustrating finish for the San Antonio Spurs, who blew the game wide open from the outset when they established a commanding 25-5 lead. Then, the team's youth and inexperience reared its ugly head yet again. By the end of the game, players and fans alike were left frustrated and disappointed.
Despite the Spurs being statistically better than Dallas in most categories (rebounds, assists, blocks, steals), the star power of Luka Doncic was enough to allow the Mavericks to escape with a 104-99 victory. The Spurs now must travel to face the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday favored to begin their season 1-5.
While there were some decent performances by individual Spurs, one stood out above the rest -- which is something he's been doing all season so far.
San Antonio Spurs Stud: Dejounte Murray - 23 pts, 10 rebs, 8 asts
I've been of the opinion that Derrick White is the Spurs' best player when completely healthy for a while now, but Dejounte Murray is proving me wrong on a nightly basis. Flirting with yet another triple-double, Murray was everywhere on Thursday night.
Dejounte has taken another step forward so far this season, demonstrating he's capable of nailing 3-pointers while setting his teammates up more than ever before. In fact, Murray had 21 potential assists against Dallas, so easily should've added another triple-double to his resume with the help of others on the team.
On the season, Murray is now up to 16.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game, which would all easily be career-highs for a season. Defensively, his 21 deflections rank third in the league while his two steals per game have him tied for 10th.
It's becoming more evident as time goes on that Murray is going to bring consistency to the court, and that's exciting for this young team in desperate need of a leader. The other candidate for the team's best player, however, hasn't fared as well.
San Antonio Spurs Dud: Derrick White - 9 pts, 7 asts, 4/11 FG, 3 TOs
More is expected of Derrick White this season than ever before, and he's only been halfway delivering. While he's still playing as well as ever on the defensive end, his slow shooting start has become an extended slump.
After going 4-for-11 from the field and 0-for-3 from the outside against the Mavericks, White is now shooting 42.5% from the field and 28% from the 3-point line for the season.
Clearly, White is not playing like his usual self to start the season, but I need to point out the Spurs have had one of the toughest schedules in the NBA so far. All but one of their first six opponents are considered contenders or close to contenders for a title this season.
Derrick is likely being seen as the guy to stop by opposing defenses, and as such, he's being focused on harder than ever. Still, he's not doing well on wide-open opportunities either, which he'll need to fix soon if the Spurs are going to dig themselves out of an early hole in the standings.
As the competition starts to get easier next week (Indiana, Orlando, OKC), White will need to prove that he's as special of an all-around player as many of us still believe he is.