First Impressions: Spurs 116, Mavs 107

San Antonio 116, Dallas 107 stands as one of those 'glass-half-full' vs. 'glass-half-empty' standards of measurement. Do you choose to applaud the Mavs for rallying against the powerhouse Spurs to cut a 15-point margin to three? Or do you bemoan the sloppy finish, the home-game loss to a rival and a third defeat in four outings?

The Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs are now 23-7 and have a 7-2 record on the second night of back-to-backs thanks to their 116-107 victory at the AAC on Thursday, and maybe the story of this game is their accomplishment rather than Dallas' failure.

As The Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said before the game, the Spurs boast "three Hall-of-Famers'' and "great role players'' after that and he was prescient: Tim Duncan was good (21 points) and Tony Parker was good (23 points) and Manu Ginobili drew a last-minute foul against a limping Monta Ellis that made him the winner of the BBIQ test between the two.


But the biggest difference was sub Danny Green, who scored 22 points for the Spurs and did it on 7-of-7 shooting -- five of those 3-pointers.

"You have to play with a certain precision and a certain level of focus and concentration against them,'' Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said, "otherwise the slippage will kill you. We had just enough slippage to kill us in the timely moments."

The San Antonio bench buried the Dallas bench, outscoring it by an absurd margin of 49-28, with only Vince Carter (20) and Sam Dalembert (eight) contributing points.

Dirk Nowitzki (25 points) and Jose Calderon (13 points) were key in Dallas' fourth-quarter rally. DeJuan Blair (back with the first team against his old mates) was good for 14 points and 11 rebounds. And Monta Ellis (23) was in the mix as well. But Ellis was involved in four flawed plays down the stretch -- one of which resulted in a fortunate Dalembert layup but the other three being a foolish foul trying to guard Manu, an errant floater that caromed too high off the glass, and finally, a dribble out of bounds after things were settled.

During those same final ticks, Jae Crowder committed two more boneheaded moves with misguided in-bounds passes, the second one of which was intercepted by the Spurs to seal the game.
"We basically had to pitch a shut-out in the last four minutes and we had a chance to do it,'' Carlisle said. "But we had a couple of mistakes that short-circuited us."

Glass is half-empty? The Mavs are 16-13 but habitually let chances slip away, and have as a result lost three of their last four outings. A chance to get healthy? Maybe not right away, as they now pack for a three-game roadie.

Glass is half-full? For all their foibles, the Mavs remain in the West playoff picture, hovering around eighth. ... but as they established in their sixth consecutive loss to San Antonio, they really don't hover anywhere near the Spurs.

"Yeah, but they are a great team,'' said Blair. "It's just something that they do. They take their time, they're patient and they played a great game ... We've just got to believe in ourselves and commit to each other. It will eventually happen. It's a long season still and we'll see them again."

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