Mavs All-Access: A Spurs Memory To Forget
March 17th, 2012. That was the last time the Dallas Mavericks defeated the San Antonio Spurs in the regular season. It was St. Patrick’s Day so I don’t remember it.
I’d rather not remember Tuesday’s game, either. In this 101-100 loss to open the season (see Fish's column here on "Dirkopoly''), 10-point third quarter lead evaporated quicker than my “vacation fund” and Tony Parker just refused to miss as we had to hear another jubilant AT&T Center crowd as the clock struck midnight (what did these people do to deserve five titles?). It’s now 10 regular-season games in a row for the San Antonios over your Mavs.
"That’s the world we live in,'' coach Rick Carlisle said after the loss, "in the Western Conference.''
What it comes down to for me is the Mavericks needed Chandler Parsons to be better than Marco Bellinelli or Danny Green. He wasn’t and they lost by one point because of it.
What ended up being a 2-of-10 shooting night for Our Little Piggy started out borderline-electric. A posterization of Tim Duncan early in the first and two fast-break starting steals forecast a blockbuster premiere for the third wheel of the Cuban-Morey Love/Hate Triangle. I believe my exact words in my notes were “Parsons gives no f#$%s”. As the game wore on it was clear that he had no role to play in a third quarter that saw the Mavericks lead start to dwindle while the physicality ramped up to 11. As the Spurs started one of their textbook comebacks in which featured a Tim Duncan flop-draws-a-technical-knocks-down-every-damn-thing combo I was hoping that Parsons could be the new calming voice that settles the offense and assures every possession is worthwhile.
Yeah, that’s not his whole deal apparently.
When the game got ultra physical he disappeared and drifted out to the three-point line. Several times in the fourth he got caught in compromising defensive quagmires that lead to easy buckets or quick fouls. I know it resulted from the Spurs taking advantage of the Mavericks switching on pick-and-rolls and Parsons ending up on Duncan but you have to fight for the ball before you get sealed and the play ends in easy points or one foul closer to the bonus. The unwillingness to body-up Duncan does not impress me because it’s going to end one of two ways, neither of which are positive for the Mavs.
With all that being said, if Parsons knocks down that three with time expiring, all is forgiven. I have no problem with him stepping up and wanting to knock down that shot. If Vince Carter would have done it he’d be applauded for having giant testicles or a cool looking beard or whatever the infatuation was with him. After watching it 10-plus times it’s clear that Monta is as open as a human being can be on the opposite wing but who’s to say if there was enough time for him to attack the rim because all things being equal, I trust Parsons taking a spot-up three over Monta in that exact situation. That’s even on a night when he shoots 2-of-10 and only hits 1-of-4 threes.
Said Parsons: "Looking back on it, I may need to make an extra pass to Monta there, but I didn’t know exactly how much time there was on the clock. But I’ll take that shot any day at the end of a game, and I’ve got to step up and knock it down next time.”
We’ve talked previously about his poor shooting this preseason (31-percent from 3) and while one game does not make a trend it’d still be nice to see the long-range archery that is a large part of his appeal.
I’m done respecting the Spurs. They have roughly a lifetime’s worth of respect from me. That’s enough. I can hate them now. I just can’t watch it anymore. Parker hitting his fall-away floaters from the same two spots as he drives left, Duncan chicken-winging less aware defenders before he gazes at the ref as if he’s just seen a really chill ghost and just every bullsh thing about Manu Ginobili ... can’t do it anymore. Their concepts seem so simple -- “No defender can outrun a pass!” -- and I always notice a pattern in the spots on the floor that they take their shots from. Yet, nobody can stop it.
I suppose the true genius is getting contributions from guys like Aron Baynes and being able to limit the Mavs to just a 10-point lead when it feels like they should be up by 25. Oh yeah, all that with two of their best four players being sidelined.
Hell with it, let’s talk about the third-quarter comeback. On the Mavericks' first possession of the third quarter Monta Ellis made a nifty layup to put the Mavericks up by 10 points. Over the next four minutes the Mavericks committed six fouls (two technicals) and shot 1-of-5 while turning the ball over twice thus having to sit Tyson Chandler for the majority of the third quarter with four fouls (Tyson’s foul trouble was really the story of the game for me. If you can’t defend Duncan then it’s church). In my opinion, the refs let that stretch of the game get out of hand. The second Brandan Wright subbed into the game, Duncan started tossing him around like a rag doll and by the time the testosterone wore off the Mavs were down by three.
“I think it definitely changed the momentum,” TY said of his foul trouble. “They started going inside and drawing double-teams, and that definitely was a shift in the game.”
Added tell-it-like-it-is Dirk: "I thought we lost our composure a little bit and we let the refereeing get to us a little bit, instead of just working through it. We gave up 31 points that quarter ... The third quarter was a killer overall.
Let’s talk about something positive briefly for the sake of my mental health (we’ll return to the negative soon enough). Monta played really well in the second half. His first quarter was damn near awkward for his standards as he was missing bunnies and not finding the rhythm on layups that he usually bangs in with his eyes closed. After heating up in the second knocking down 4 of 6 and dishing out 3 assists (including a very heads up collision with Manu forcing free throws in the final minute) he kept the Mavs alive in the third. The third quarter tally wasn’t as impressive but if you watched the game it was. All 8 of his third quarter points were huge. It just felt like if he didn’t knock them down then nobody was going to.
Meanwhile, Devin Harris was really the only reason the Mavericks where in this game in the fourth quarter. Two incredibly clutch threes tightened the collar on what looked like it might become a Spurs three-point avalanche. His relentless attempts at attacking Corey Joseph was stuff they’ll make a USA Network television series about someday. Devin’s nine-fourth quarter points and 17 overall were impressive but again Dallas was in need of that fourth scorer if they were going to hang with the Spurs (calling all Piggys).
In the end, the Spurs napalm of nine second-half threes felt like a mound too high too climb. While I found it easy at the time to yell at Dirk for not closing out harder on Tony Parker’s go-ahead three point attempt with only four seconds left on the shot clock, I don’t so much now. Dirk had just put the team in position to win by drilling two really tough baseline jumpers and if you’re going to live by the Dirk making shots then you have to die by the Dirk getting caught in awkward matchups on the perimeter when the defensive scheme sells out to switching.
With every minute that passes I become more “OK” with a loss to the defending champs on their Ring Night and feel encouraged as to what this year’s Mavs have ahead of them. I'm buying what Rick is selling here:
“I loved a lot of the things about the way we played, and it was a great basketball game,” Carlisle said. “I mean, you can’t kick off the season with a better game than this for the fans. There’s no way.''
Better check out now before I lose my edge.
The highlight package:
Some very simple notes that I jotted down:
Make Tony Parker go right. He only made one play when driving right and it was that insane rocker step fake spin on Jameer.
Al-Farouq Aminu should save his three-point cornhole-tossing for when they play teams like the Jazz on Thursday.
I don’t hate what Richard Jefferson brings.
If Corey Joseph is guarding you, go at his head.
Starting halves with an alley oop-play or an elbow jumper to Tyson Chandler seems to be a staple.
Jameer made everyone forget about Jose Calderon and his three point filthyness … and then he didn’t.
San Antonio’s insane commitment to whipping the ball around the perimeter is more staggering the heavier your legs get.
Dirk Nowitzki’s release does look quicker but the lack of calls he gets when smaller defenders attempt to uproot him from his spot 15 feet away from the basket never ceases to amaze me.
"Overall we played a good game, and we can learn from it and get better. Go to practice and get ready for the next one.” -- Monta Ellis.
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