On Friday, the San Antonio Spurs had to play their second consecutive game without their head coach Gregg Popovich (ill) and All-Star forward Tim Duncan (sore knee).
Kawhi Leonard (10 points, 8 rebounds) did return to the lineup on Friday as Tony Parker (23 points, 10 assists) had a minor eye injury in which he left the game momentarily, but returned to guide the Spurs to a seventh win a row, in a 113-107 victory Dallas over the Mavericks.
Here are a few key points on how the Spurs were able to defeat the Mavericks.
On their way to scoring over 110 points, the Spurs’ offense scored 25 or more points in each quarter. The most obvious offensive quarter was third in which they put up 35 points. Aside from the points in each quarter, the Spurs had seven players score in double-figures including Tiago Splitter (13 points, 12 rebounds), Danny Green (11 points), and Boris Diaw (10 points). In fact, it was a night in which all of the starters scored 10 points or more.
Kawhi Leonard had a game-high four steals as the Spurs as a team gathered 11 steals on the night. Another big key was the Spurs holding Dirk Nowitzki to 15 points on 14 attempted shots. Overall, the Mavericks starters combined to score 52 points, but the Spurs’ defense forced them to take 54 total shots for those points. Without Duncan, the Spurs were also able to hold the Mavericks to 20 points in the first quarter.
The third quarter
Though the Spurs had a 10-point lead at halftime, the third quarter made the biggest difference in the game as the Spurs outscored the Mavericks 35-25 in which the Spurs’ lead stretched to as much as 26 points. One key to stretching the lead was the Spurs knocking down 3-of-7 three pointers in the third quarter.
Parker the boxer
Three minutes into the game, Parker went out with an eye injury in which he required stiches. With the Spurs holding a 27-20 lead in the first quarter, Parker returned to the game early in the second quarter and would impose his dominance over the Mavericks for the rest of the game as he scored eight points in the second, seven in the third, and six in the fourth while dishing 12 assists. The boxer reference comes from every time the camera showed Parker’s eye on the bench, he looked like “Rocky” in the boxing movies.
The Beast returns
DeJuan Blair on a rare occurrence was given almost 19 minutes of game play. Blair made the most of his opportunity by scoring eight points in the first quarter, nine in the second, and five more in the second half on his way to 22 points. Blair looked like the vintage Blair. He was scoring off of the pick-and-roll, and getting baskets out in transition ahead of the defense.
Catch-and-shoot Gary did exactly what he’s been known to do on Friday. Run around a screen or in transition, catch a pass, and shoot it without hesitation. Gary Neal’s style of play was on exhibition against the Mavericks as he tallied 18 points on 7-of-13 shots, including two 3-pointers.
Not a way to close a game
With 1:03 left in the game and the Spurs leading by 15 points (111-96), the team had trouble closing out the Mavs as Dallas went on an 11-0 to get the Spurs’ lead down to four points with two seconds remaining. The Spurs would eventually hold on for the six-point lead.
Where they stand
With the win, the Spurs move to 35-11 on the season and are 16-9 on the road. Against the Southwest Division, the Spurs moved to 11-2 on the season. With the Mavericks being a team with a record below .500, the Spurs moved to 19-1 on the season.
Suns in San Antonio on Saturday
Up next for the Spurs, the visiting Phoenix Suns (15-28) will visit the Alamo City on Saturday in the team’s first matchup of the season. The Suns meanwhile have won their last two games and just defeated the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.