Drawing the Dallas Mavericks on the second night of a back-to-back is a tall task for any team.
Oh yea, and throw in the loss of Manu Ginobili and that changes things even more.
Not so, said the San Antonio Spurs, who stormed out to an early lead and never looked back on their way to a 93-71 win over the defending champs.
Gary Neal was back in action, getting the start ahead of James Anderson, who started last night. Neal didn’t take too long to get his rhythm, knocking down a three pointer on the first possession of the game.
Neal followed with another three, leading to a 10-2 lead and a Mavs timeout just minutes into the game.
“They came out early and ran at us, and we couldn’t recover from it,” Mavs guard Jason Terry said.
The three-point barrage continued into the second quarter for the Spurs,with Richard Jefferson and Matt Bonner getting in on the fun. By the end of the second quarter 11 of 18 three-point shots. The Mavericks, long known to be a three-point threat, did not connect on any of their 11 attempts from beyond the arch.
“(They were) just open shots and taking them like I have been all year,” Spurs forward Matt Bonner said. “Tonight, they were going in, which is a good thing. Just going to stick with the process and hope I can keep shooting like I did tonight.”
In the second half, the Mavs started getting the stops they had been looking for all night. While the Spurs got a lot of open looks in the first half, most of their shots were being contested at the start of the second half.
The Mavs’ improved defense lead to the Spurs seeing a downward spiral in their shooting percentage. After shooting 44 percent from the field and 61 percent on threes, the Spurs shot 15 percent from the field and made zero of their six attempts from outside.
The problem for the Mavs was, they didn’t do much better, netting only five of their 21 attempts throughout the third quarter.
“I’m looking at that saying our defense is finally looking like it should,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s disappointing and I don’t know if there is a lot of analysis beyond that.”
By the time the horn sounded to start the fourth quarter, just about any last ditch attempt was going to be too little, too late for Dallas. The Spurs trotted out their second unit for most of the second half, and they were able to resume the hot shooting from outside.
In the end, the Mavs, who pride themselves on defense and outside shooting, couldn’t get either one going tonight, shooting an abysmal 5.3 percent from beyond the arch and losing by a 20+ point margin.
“We happened to shoot well. We’re thrilled to have the win, we’re notn going to give it away.” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Our guys played hard and we ended up with a good win., but both teams have a long way to go.”
The Spurs had five players finish in double figures, with Matt Bonner leading both teams with 17 points. Richard Jefferson and Gary Neal had 16 and 12 apiece.
The Spurs are now 2-0 without Manu Ginobili. They’ll look to make that 3-0 on Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets.