First Impressions: Spurs 'Hit-First' Vs Mavs
Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Dallas Mavericks once again certainly looked "old and slow and out of shape," the Dirk characterization that the defending champs thought they'd put behind them after winning three of four coming in.
But the chance to reach .500 slipped away here quickly as the Spurs looked much livelier from the tip as they would open the game on a 10-2 run and never look back.
The Spurs enjoyed five players scoring in double figures, led by That Bonner Character with 17. Richard Jefferson scored 16 points – fellas, you gotta close on him in the corners! -- to go along with a team-high seven rebounds. The Spurs got 11 points and eights assists from Tony Parker. Gary Neal scored 12 points, all on three-pointers and his play was emblematic of the Spurs in the first half as they buried the Mavericks early with a barrage from downtown.
Dallas never led, falling behind by as much as 28 and never really showing much urgency, except maybe on errant attempts at touchdown passes that were too often easily intercepted. Jason Terry topped the Mavs with a paltry 12 points and Delonte West finished with 10.
No other Maverick finished in double figures. … which brings us to Dirk and his six points.
This is just the seventh time in Dirk's career that he's played 20 minutes or more and scored six points or fewer. The last time? It was 2003. Good thing he got those measly six points, too, because without ‘em, Dallas would've threatened to score just 62 in the game to match the franchise mark for futility.
Coming in, this game looked to be a winnable one as the Spurs were playing without Manu, the team's leading scorer at 17.4 points per game. However, the last four times San Antonio has played Dallas without one or more members of their ‘Big Three' of Manu, Longoria or Timmy, they are 4-0.
"We get cooked,'' as Kidd said leading up to the game between archrivals.
The Spurs themselves were playing on the second night of a back-to-back. An excuse for losing? Not on this night. A reason for losing? Nope, not for them.
Want to argue that in a long NBA season, there will be nights like this when the other team seemingly hits everything they put up from everywhere? Doing so ignores the larger aspect of this game. The Mavericks opened lethargically on offense and ended up making just 1 of 19 attempts from the arc. They seemed somewhere between slow and disinterested on defense, often out of position and rotating slowly on the Spurs shooters.
The Spurs took advantage of the lethargy and the slowness, going 16 of 33 on three-pointers for 49 percent shooting from the arc.
"You've got to give them credit,'' Dirk said. "They came out on fire."
Positives for Dallas? Oh, the 3-5 Mavericks once again out-rebounded an opponent, besting the Spurs 52-44. Roddy B was also a compelling force in this one, so lost in some ways while also showing glimpses of the player many hope he can become. Beaubois lead the team with three blocked shots to go along with four points and five rebounds (and some sketchy work, too). DoJo had a cool drive-and-finish. Dirk accidently on purpose popped Duncan in the jaw. It appeared on Fox Sports Southwest that Followill, Harper, Fish and Ortegel had all color-coordinated their purple-and-pink neckties together. That was about it.
None of the positives outweigh the anchor that is the Kidd news, as he left the game with a low-back injury. Hopefully he'll recover (Kidd will be examined futher on Friday with hopes of playing in Saturday's home game against New Orleans) … just as the Mavs must recover from being "hit first.''
"They came out swinging," Dirk said. "And we were reacting instead of acting.''
Good. No excuses. Just reasons.
And maybe next time, less "reacting'' and more "swinging.''
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