Mavs Lose To Spurs - And Lose Monta To Injury
The Dallas Mavericks and Spurs entered Friday in a fight for sixth place in the impossibly tough West. By the end of the night, the Mavs lost the fight ... and lost one of their best fighters, too.
"Our trainers will evaluate the situation, and we'll communicate with (Monta Ellis)," coach Rick Carlisle said after the loss that drops Dallas to 45-28, making it harder to catch the sixth-place Spurs. "I don't see us putting him out there if he's not feeling good. You can't underestimate his ability to bounce back from things. He's a fighter, he loves to compete and he hates missing games.''
Ellis sustained what the team first said was a right knee injury -- later amended to an injury to his right calf -- in the third quarter. The play looked innocuous enough (in the highlight reel, go to the 27-second mark) ...
But the impact is huge. With Monta sidelined him for the final quarter-and-a-half, Dallas offense shriveled, leaving his 10 points tied with Tyson Chandler's as team-highs. Ellis is on crutches as we write this, his tough-guy mindset surely focused on trying to participate Sunday at Indy ....Friday night at the AT&T Center. But it was bad enough that Ellis needed crutches to leave the arena.
"We aren't going to put him in harm's way,'' said Carlisle of Ellis, the Mavs' leading scorer who has developed a rep for insisting on playing when hurt even against the coach's wishes.
Ellis' streak of 237 straight games played is now in jeopardy, but that's a sidebar to seventh-place Dallas slipping further behind the 46-26 Spurs. This has the feel of Dallas sticking in seventh, though the Mavs' 2-2 season record against San Antonio, and their superior in-division record, means Dallas could own a tiebreaker should the two rivals finish with the same record.
But that will take some fight. From Monta ... from his more healthy teammates ... and maybe from owner Mark Cuban, too, as he's irate about the non-star treatment the officials administer to Ellis.
"It's criminal,'' Cuban tweeted, "how Monta doesn't get calls. Pushed. Hit in face. Hit on arm. I'm tired of turning in calls. Fans need to post video to wake NBA up.''
The Mavs have not beat the Spurs in San Antonio in a regular-season game since November 26, 2010. Even though they did win in San Antonio last year in the playoffs, it is quite a drought to not win there in so long. This loss doesn't come as much of a surprise, though, considering the beatdown the Mavs put on these Spurs in Dallas earlier this week. It's hard to imagine a veteran team lead by Greg Poppovich to lose to the same team twice in a row, especially at home.
*Assists- When it comes to the Spurs, this is the stat to look at. The Spurs thrive on ball distribution and "making the extra pass." If that is contained, it takes on dimension away and the Mavs couldn't do that. The Spurs tallied 28 assists to the Mavs 15.
*Field-goal percentage- The Spurs shot 44 percent to the Mavs' 37.8 percent.
*Three-point percentage- Spurs shot 34.6 percent from downtown while the Mavs just shot 22.2 percent.
Chandler Parsons led the team with 35 minutes played. His presence was needed more due to Monta's absence as those two are the Mavs' main offensive options. Rondo played 32 minutes, Tyson played 30 minutes and Dirk played 29 minutes. Monta played 23 minutes before leaving with an injury, which led to an increased role for Devin Harris, who played 26 minutes but logged a +/- of -31.
But we're not picking on Devin here. Dallas did very little early, a rare highlight being CP's dunk on Duncan's pumpkin head ...
And in the second half, when valiant efforts from the like of TY and Aminu actually cut a bloated lead down to four, the Mavs followed up with such folly as beginning the fourth quarter with a back-to-back-to-back trio of possessions that culminated in misses at the rim.
“We were right there. It was 66-61 at one point, and then we just couldn’t score. … I thought we played our asses off in the second half just to get back in it.” - Dirk Nowitzki.