San Antonio Spurs 93, Dallas Mavericks 76

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 25, 2009 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

Photo by AP Photo/Eric Gay.

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“You never find yourself until you face the truth.”
-Pearl Bailey

Last night, in a fit of symbolism, I filled a glass half-full with water.  I then put on a Tony Parker mask, and proceeded to demolish said glass with a sledgehammer.  Abandon hope, all ye who follow this team.

I went into last night’s game thinking ahead.  If the Mavs beat the Spurs, that would give them some legitimacy.  It could be a big win for a team that has fallen, risen, and seemed on the verge of settling somewhere in the middle.  Then I hear the announcement that on top of Ginobili’s absence, Tim Duncan will also be missing the game.  No more signature victory, but still a way for the team to gain some confidence against mostly reserves.  Needless to say, that’s not exactly what happened.

A quick point guard caused lots of trouble for Jason Kidd, so Carlisle tried J.J. Barea on him.  Said quick point guard then caused lots of trouble for Barea, and we lose.  Come on guys, this act is getting a little tired.  Channel point guards towards the shot blockers, rely on the rotations, force him to get rid of the ball, and make Fabricio Oberto make a damn move.  There is one fundamental flaw in the execution of this strategy: they ignored it entirely.  Rick Carlisle decided to be reactionary last night, and pulled Dampier from the team’s gameplan entirely rather than make subtle adjustments.  James Singleton did an awesome job in filling Damp’s role on the boards, but he just doesn’t have the height or reach of a 6’11” brick wall.  I’m not sure that Dampier could have made a tangible difference in the outcome in this game, and I’m inclined to doubt it.  But wouldn’t it have been nice to know?  We’ve discounted Dampier in a lot of situations, but sometimes he can be a real asset on the floor — even for games for which he seems ill-suited.

This marks three games in a row that Dirk has struggled.  Take a look at his stats:

@Houston: 4-18 FG (22.2%), 9 points
Sacramento: 6-13 FG (46.2%), 12 points
@San Antonio: 5-15 FG (33.3%), 14 points

He also has a total of 6 FTAs over that three-game stretch.  Dirk has spoiled us all with his hyper-efficient, seemingly effortless ability to score, so the importance of such a stretch is surely overstated.  It’s not as if the Dirk enigma has suddenly been solved, but it is the team’s star player going cold at a time where he needs to bring his A-game.  It’s not meaningful in a grander sense, but it is unfortunate given the team’s circumstances and what they hope to accomplish.

Every meaningful Maverick run (they were few and far between) was answered by a defensive breakdown.  A virtually uncontested Tony Parker layup.  A barrage of Michael Finley threes (man, he was dialed-in).  A Kurt Thomas put-back.  Boom, bang, pow.  Each punch to the gut had a visible effect on the Mavericks’ mentality, with heads hanging lower and lower as the lead went from bad to manageable to daunting.

Aggressive pressure limited the Mavs’ offense, and they just couldn’t capitalize in any meaningful way.  Jason Kidd was turned into a non-factor, Brandon Bass couldn’t provide any meaningful production, and Josh Howard was unspectacular.  Couple all that with Dirk’s offensive mortality and you have a recipe for disaster.  The Mavs failed to score twenty points in three quarters.  Ugh.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: James Singleton is the only player who would even come close to deserving this.  Singleton played the role of a more mobile, active Dampier, and what he lacked in size and shot blocking he made up for in effort to the tune of 14 points (5-10 FG, 2-3 3FG!!!) and 14 rebounds.  In a game that I wish was forgettable, Singleton was just about the sole bright spot.

  • Charles

    I was tricked into thinking this was gonna be an easy victory too…

    Just goes to show you what kind of coach SA has. Everytime Dirk touched the ball he was quickly double teamed and everytime he kicked it out (and he didn’t do a great job of finding his guys…or maybe his guys didn’t do a good job of moving to their spots) the Spurs rotated and contested.

    I was so damn depressed I turned the game off 2 mins into the fourth, the Mavs were simply out worked and out coached.

  • Rob Mahoney

    You nailed it. The Spurs’ defensive rotations are impeccable and often overlooked, but they KILLED the Mavs. They don’t need those Duncan and Ginobili guys, I guess.

  • Chaz

    The shooting touch was off and Spurs defense was scary, yet the Mavs kept hoisting up bad shots. It was very much a malaise game and Dirk’s shot finally came way too late. Mavs should have thrown everything and the kitchen sink at Tony Parker. Why not just have Gerald Green run after him since he’s actually quick and has a height advantage? And Deavan George must have something on Cuban, because his play out there is beyond frustrating.

  • Charles

    The moment they jumped up the ball I was scratching my head. It’s not the first time Kidd has played Tony Parker, they should know by now that it’s unreasonable to expect Kidd to guard him. They should’ve gambled with Antoine Wright on TP with Kidd guarding the SG position.

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