When the Mavs and Spurs played each other earlier this year, it wasn’t even a contest and ended up being a 22-point blowout win for the Spurs. Tonight, these two teams reminded everybody why this has been one of the best rivalries the past decade.
The Jason Kidd-less Dallas Mavericks (13-8) defeated the San Antonio Spurs (12-9), 101-100 (OT), but it was anything but easy.
From the very start, the Mavs looked completely different than the slow Dallas team that didn’t show up to play when they visited the At&T Center about three weeks ago. Scoring the first six points for the Big D, Vince Carter established his game early, helping him finish with a season high 21 points.
After taking a 13-12 lead on a Carter three-pointer, the Mavericks steam-rolled ahead.
With Haywood and Beaubois blocking shot after shot (finishing with eight combined blocks) and solid team defense from everyone else, the Spurs were held to only 49 points with 3:27 left to play in the third quarter. The Mavs held an 18-point lead behind some amazing play from Jason Terry, who hit many crucial buckets with his quick first step.
When James Neal entered the game for Tony Parker at this point in the game, things suddenly got… weird.
Being down by almost 20 points with the Memphis Grizzlies on schedule the next day, Popovich had five bench players on the floor: Neal, Green, Anderson, Bonner, and Splitter. As the ESPN commentators pointed out, this seemed like a move from Pop to waive the white flag and rest his starters since they had a game the very next day. Even if this was his intention, it ended up looking like a brilliant move from the 15-year Spurs head coach.
These five men rapidly cut the deficit to 69-58 by the end of the quarter. The Spurs next 15 points came from five three-pointers – happening in less than four minutes. I’ve never seen a barrage of long distance bombs in such a short amount of time.
For a team that currently stands as the fourth best defense in the league, this type of defense from the Mavs is unacceptable. Teams do get hot in NBA games, but top defenses prevent teams from remaining on fire for as long as the Spurs did. When a team begins to shoot lights out from long range for more than two possessions in a row, adjustments must be made to force the opponent off the three-point line. I expect Carlisle to break down the defense from the start of that fourth quarter and never let that type of fiasco take place again.
This run gave the Spurs a 75-71 lead, and it seemed as though anyone not named Jason Terry that was in a Mavericks uniform had nothing left in the tank.
San Antonio increased their edge to nine points with 5:33 left in the Texas Showdown. With still no sight of a Spurs’ starter on the floor, the bench created a 27 point swing in the Spurs favor.
The road team seemed on their way to a victory until Roddy-B and Jason Terry decided to give Dallas fans one more push. These two Mavericks combined to score the next 16 points for Dallas, the last two being the most important.
With pressure from multiple defenders, Beaubois made a running lay-up look easy with 29 seconds left to go in the game, cutting the deficit to 91-89 and giving Dallas a two-for-one opportunity. After Roddy came up with an impressive block on a Gary Neal jumper, Dirk grabbed the rebound and started taking the ball up court, even though the Mavs had two timeouts left. With Dirk having an off-night, he knew who to give the ball to and that player was on the runway ready to go.
The Jet took the ball from Dirk and dribbled the ball up-court. He pulled up from his favorite side – the right side – and nailed a 17-foot jumper to tie things up with .5 seconds left to go. Not only did this put Terry at 30 points on the night, but it gave the nation deja vu for all the many big time shots Terry has hit in his career. Dirk has been the #1 guy the past decade, but Terry has been right there next to him when he has needed some help.
With these two raging comebacks from each squad, a buzzer beater seemed fitting… and it almost happened.
Danny Green received an inbounds pass on the baseline and hoisted up a shot that was initially ruled good. However, after reviewing the play, a few milliseconds kept the Spurs from coming away first in the Southwest Division.
Once overtime began, the Dallas crowd seemed as raucous as they were during April, May and June of 2011, and both teams looked ready to go five more minutes. Poppovich, however, decided to continue to go with his bench that had been in the game since late in the third quarter.
To make sure he finished what he started, Carter hit another jumper on Dallas’s first possession in overtime to cap off his solid night. This level of contribution off the bench will be invaluable if the bearded veteran can keep it up.
The final eight points for the Mavericks came from two familiar players – Nowitzki and Terry. Dirk hit two jumpers while Terry hit a mid-range shot and sunk two free throws.
Finally, after the Mavericks forced Danny Green to shoot a deep three in the waning seconds, the Texas battle had come to close.
What an odd basketball game. Duncan, Parker, Jefferson, and Blair did not play in the fourth quarter or overtime. Kawhi Leonard went in with 12.6 seconds left to go in the game simply for rebounding purposed. Their replacements scored the final 51 points of the game for San Antonio – while only putting up four points prior to that run. On top of that, the other team was playing with a very rusty superstar that finished 5-14 from the field and collected only 10 points.
With Jason Terry providing 34 points on 14-23 shooting, he gave the Mavericks the consistent force they needed. The Spurs would have pulled away even further in the fourth quarter if it wasn’t for the Mavs sharpshooter. Behind the 12-year veteran, Carter gave a spark at the beginning while Beaubois provided one of his own towards the end of the game. The best part about how these two played is that they both contributed energy through their offense and their defense. If Roddy-B and Vince can instill defense into their gameplay on a regular basis, they will become valuable assets towards the Mavericks success throughout this season. (And what Mavs fan doesn’t want to see Roddy finally succeed?)
I hate to bring it up, but Lamar Odom’s performance can’t be concealed in this win. Odom put up 19 points against the Jazz on Friday, leading many to believe he might finally be out of his funk. Instead of building off of this game, the ex-Laker went back to his “new” style of play, scoring just four points on 2-5 shooting. The Mavericks organization have stated many times that they believe in Lamar and know he will eventually get back in the zone. It will take a string of solid games from Odom to convince Dallas he has turned a corner.
Celebration can’t last long since the Mavericks will be traveling to Phoenix to play the Suns tomorrow. With the load the nine main guys took on tonight, expect Brandan Wright to get some quality minutes to give the other big men some rest.
Even though Dallas gave up an inexcusable amount of points to the Spurs bench players, a victory over the Spurs is a victory over the Spurs. This win could be a huge momentum builder for the Mavericks. They had not beat a quality team since defeating the Celtics on January 11. On top of getting the win against a solid opponent and their long time rival, they now sit atop the Southwest Division for the first time all season. They might be physically tired, but I am sure they are emotionally pumped.
Ignite the Site!