El Conclusión: San Antonio Spurs 129, Dallas Mavericks 91

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Dallas Mavericks 91 FinalRecap | Box Score 129 San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan, PF 23 MIN | 7-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +25Tonight Tim Duncan was content to settle into the background of the offensive framework, the Spurs needing little from their franchise center. On such nights it’s the little things to watch for that bring such joy. Like a block on Darren Collison in the third quarter in which he met the shot at its peak, sending it away emphatically into the arms of an open O.J. Mayo, who missed the 3. It was the rare self-indulgent block from Duncan (who normally controls his blocks so as to gain possession), and it was awesome.
Tiago Splitter, PF 21 MIN | 1-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +24Seven rebounds and an emphatic dunk, and a good night from the charity stripe are enough to garner nice praise in a limited role for Splitter tonight. He and Duncan are settling into a nice chemistry defensively, and with Kawhi Leonard returning to the mix, it speaks to promising possibilities for the Spurs defense.
Kawhi Leonard, SF 26 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | +28Kawhi Leonard was a terror in the passing lanes all night, turning seemingly every lazy Mavericks pass into a quick-hitting scoring opportunity. The lone exception being his first steal, a fast break layup he left short at the rim. He remedied the problem by proceeding to dunk the rest.
Tony Parker, PG 28 MIN | 5-9 FG | 6-7 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | +32Collapsed the Mavericks defense repeatedly, sending its defense into chaotic rotations as it went on a wild goose chase from shooter to shooter in futility. Got in on the 3-point act with a couple corner 3-pointers of his own. It’s a shot that has become trustworthy for Parker, even if it’s not the best use of his talents.
Danny Green, SG 23 MIN | 9-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 25 PTS | +25Danny Green has a fast trigger, taking every shot without hesitation. Except for the shot he hesitated, jab stepped, and still nailed. After the game, “these are the nights where you want to go buy a lottery ticket, go to the carnival to play every game, it seems everything is going right.”
Matt Bonner, PF 11 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | 0Tony Parker was hitting corner 3-pointers so it’s only fair that Matt Bonner made use of the tear drop. Bonner and Gregg Popovich are quickly becoming the new Michael Jordan and Dean Smith in that only the head coach can stop the scoring binges (eight points in 11 minutes). I joke, of course.
Stephen Jackson, SF 22 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +9There might not be a more entertaining slow motion player in the NBA than the Spurs’ Stephen Jackson. Even his release is slow, which oddly is a fantastic weapon in itself. He’s big enough to still get the shot off despite the slow release. And the release itself is slow enough that he’s able to pull the shot down and drive on any closeout that comes too recklessly.
DeJuan Blair, C 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +4Sort of spoiled the garbage time fun.
Boris Diaw, C 19 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | +17Tonight Boris Diaw made quick decisions in everything he did, which typically takes the Spurs offense to another level.
Patty Mills, PG 12 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | +4Patty Mills shot count: 4. He hit three of them. Good times for all.pmshot4
Gary Neal, PG 9 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -4Gary Neal strained his calf and played limited minutes. He shot two pull-up jumpers in transition which he missed that many people will find cringe worthy. But the Spurs will consider those quality shots, and they’re shots you live considering all the fourth quarter sparks Neal has ignited this season.
Nando de Colo, PG 13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 2 PTS | +7Nando de Colo earned his “Mini-Manu” moniker tonight, whipping a no-look, off-the-hip rocket to (of all people) Matt Bonner for a corner 3-pointer, spinning off a defender and throwing a behind-the-back pass to Bonner who hit Patty Mills for an open 3-pointer, and then concluded the night with an around-the-back Manu-esque dribble capped off by a left-handed finish. So much fun.
Manu Ginobili, SG 21 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 6 PTS | +19Not to be outdone by Nando de Colo, Manu Ginobili put on a passing clinic of his own–catching a pass at full speed and dropping off a no-look pass behind him and hitting Tim Duncan in perfect stride for a dunk before the Mavericks could even process what happened. Nine assists, and many of them created by inventing new passing angles on the spot.
Gregg PopovichSome nights the coach needs to do little other than roll the ball out there and let his team go to work. Tonight was such a night in which the Spurs needed little in the way of adjustments from Popovich. The high marks then come from tempering the excitement after the game. The Spurs will not look too much into this game because he won’t allow them too.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Tonight was the Spurs offense at its peak. A perfect symphony of offensive brilliance not seen since the third quarter of Game 2 in the Western Conference Finals. The ball moved from side-to-side and then high-to-low, leaving Mavericks defenders chasing ghosts. The franchise record 20 3-pointers may be an outlier, but the ball movement is something that is perfectly reproducible.
  2. The Spurs will need huge scoring nights from Manu Ginobili as they get deep into the playoffs, but for right now he’s settling nicely into the role Jason Kidd played with the championship Mavericks, facilitating the offense, playing great defense, hitting timely 3-pointers and making timely plays overall.
  3. The Dallas Mavericks will be a better team when they next see the Spurs, but there is one glaring deficiency that is unlikely to improve. Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman are a dreadful front court combination defending the pick-and-roll. The Mavericks typically make it their first priority to deny dribble penetration from Ginobili or Parker, the difference tonight being that Nowitzki or Kaman are nowhere near as great as Tyson Chandler in recovering, which left the defense ripe for Ginobili to dissect without ever really having to get to the rim.
  4. Tonight was the first night I’ve seen Kawhi Leonard split two defenders on a pick-and-roll, navigating his way between the hedging big man and trailing defender, keeping his dribble low enough to avoid the swipe while sealing off the trailing defender with his body. If consistent, it’s an important developmental step in making Leonard a key part of the offense in future years.
  5. The Spurs defense has been improved all year while playing through injuries on the wings. With Duncan and Splitter settling into a nice chemistry on both sides of the ball, and throwing in the defensive playmaking ability of Kawhi Leonard, the potential for the Spurs to dip their toes in the top-five defensive efficiency waters remains within their starting front court’s considerable reach.