AT&T Center – Early in the fourth quarter with the San Antonio Spurs leading by 20-plus points Wednesday, there was a sequence when Marco Belinelli (17 points) was walking the basketball up the floor.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich animatedly signaled him not to walk and push the basketball up the court, keeping the Spurs’ pace at a high level.
For this Spurs team, they needed to keep their foot on the gas after they lost a 16-point lead with five minutes left on Tuesday in Memphis, as they squeaked out a game against the Grizzlies in overtime, but lost Manu Ginobili due to a tight hamstring in the final 1.8 seconds of the game.
“I’d say they responded fairly well,” said Popovich of his team’s 112-90 blowout over the Dallas Mavericks. “Overall, I thought the defense was really solid for us tonight.”
The Spurs came out energized as they had a new starting lineup made up of Tim Duncan (16 points, 13 rebounds), Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard (12 points, 8 rebounds), Danny Green, and Tony Parker (25 points, 7 assists). The Spurs would build a 12-point lead in the first but go into the second with a nine-point advantage. Both teams looked like two teams on the second night of a back-to-back as the Mavericks outscored the Spurs 22-20 in the second quarter and the Spurs took a 45-38 lead into the half.
The Spurs’ depth showcased itself in the second half however as Parker scored 14 points in the third quarter, as the Spurs blew the game open roasting the Mavericks with 37 points in the third.
“The third quarter was a demolition,” said Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle after the game.
In the fourth, the Spurs’ starters got to rest the entire quarter after playing almost 30-plus minutes the night before in Memphis. Young players like Cory Joseph, Patty Mills, and Belinelli led the charge in the fourth as the bench scored 30 points in the fourth, as their lead got as high as 29 points.
Tony Parker: After getting outscored 30-12 the by Mike Conley the night before in Memphis, Parker responded with 25 points (11 in the first half, 14 in the second half) and seven assists as Jose Calderon and the Mavericks could do little to stop him. Even Carlisle admitted the Mavericks were helpless in stopping Parker.
“He made a bunch of shots,” said Carlisle of Parker. “And really he diced up whoever was guarding him.”
“I was happy to sit in the fourth quarter tonight,” said Parker after the game, “especially last night after playing 40 minutes.”
Parker said he woke up sore after playing 40-minutes the night before and for a moment questioned whether he should be playing basketball in the summer.
As you can see, Parker did have his way with the Mavericks:
Tim Duncan: Duncan scored 16 points mainly with former Spur DeJuan Blair defending him for most of the night, but it was his rebounding in the first half that was key. Duncan grabbed 12 of his 13 rebounds in the first two quarters. He also had two blocks while playing just three quarters of the game. Duncan brought his comedic side after the game, as you'll read in a bit.
Marco Belinelli: With Ginobili out, Popovich needed a playmaker in the second unit, so he decided to bring Belinelli off the bench. The moved paid off as Belinelli exploded in the second half with 13 of his 17 points, including going 2-of-3 from the outside. The productive performance showed Belinelli is now comfortable either coming off the bench or in the starting unit.
Boris Diaw: Offensively, Diaw had his typical Diaw state line: 6 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. However it was his defense on Dirk Nowitzki which was key in the game as he held Nowitzki to 8 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
“I thought Boris was magnificent,” said Popovich after the game.
Diaw even received praise from Carlisle as well. “Diaw plays a physical game and he understands the mentality of that position,” said Carlisle of Diaw’s defense on Nowitzki. “It was a rough night (for Dirk).”
Check out Nowitzki’s shot chart to see the effect of Diaw’s defense:
Kawhi Leonard: Though he only played three quarters in the game, Leonard was key in the first half as he allowed the Spurs’ offense to take advantage of the mismatch with Monta Ellis defending him. Leonard scored seven of his 12 points in the first half, mainly by posting Ellis.
THE COMICAL TIM DUNCAN
As the media was getting ready to speak with Diaw, Duncan entered on the other side of the locker room. As soon as the media scrum saw Duncan, they rushed to him and Diaw exited the locker room. Upon seeing this, Duncan began his interview with “I’m going to talk about Boris tonight.” Talking about Diaw was literally what Duncan did on every question.
“Boris was great,” started Duncan. “Boris did an excellent job on Dirk defensively. He moved the ball real well, made great decisions out there.”
When told Coach Popovich said Diaw was “magnificent,” Duncan responded: “Boris was magnificent.”
Duncan said Diaw’s defense on Nowitzki allowed the Spurs to not have to go into any double-team action which kept the defense in its place.
In his comical postgame interview, Duncan said Diaw was the MVP of the game and after the entire team was tired from the night before, Duncan said it was Diaw who brought the most energy.
The final question to Duncan was this, ‘Was there any other French Spurs player besides Boris Diaw who had a good game?’
Duncan’s response: “No.”
· Tying season high on the glass: Via the Spurs postgame notes: “San Antonio out-rebounded the Mavs 55-32, tying their season-high on the glass.”
· Depth proving its worth: Also via the postgame notes: “With tonight’s win the Silver and Black improved to 17-3 in back-to-back games. It’s was the seventh time this season San Antonio has swept a back-to-back series. The Spurs are 9-1 in the first game of a back-to-back and 7-3 in the second game.”
· Less bench players, same production: With just six bench players in the game, the San Antonio bench outscored the Mavericks bench who had eight players, 46-45. The Spurs’ bench also accounted for 11 of the teams 25 assists.
Ginobili may or may not play vs. Timberwolves on Sunday
Before the game, Popovich said holding Ginobili from the contest against the Mavericks was just a precautionary move. After the game, he said the days of rest Ginobili will receive may have him ready for Sunday’s next game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“He’ll have about 4 or 5 days of rest, we’ll see if he’s any better,” said Popovich of Ginobili and the chance of playing Sunday.
Where they stand: With the win, the Spurs improve to 28-8 on the season. They moved to 14-5 at home, they won their 15th game by 10 or more points, are 12-7 against teams that are .500 or above, and 17-6 against the Western Conference. They also reclaimed the best record in the Western Conference.