AT&T CENTER – For 47 minutes and 57 seconds Saturday, it was the Dallas Mavericks who looked like they were on their way to victory against the San Antonio Spurs. But, at age 40, Manu Ginobili added another game winning basket to his season resume as he made a left handed layup with three seconds left. Ginobili’s layup gave the Spurs their first lead of the night, 98-96, and the Mavericks missed their last shot attempt as San Antonio won the game.
SPURS WIN!!! pic.twitter.com/niWLgpZixo
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 17, 2017
In a game where the Spurs trailed Dallas by 16 points in the third quarter and even 11 points with 4:11 left in the fourth quarter, San Antonio refused to throw in the towel.
“I’m happy for them because they kept pounding the rock, they never gave in,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the Spurs’ comeback victory.
The Spurs won the game despite missing four of their core players in Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Kyle Anderson. Dallas was without Dennis Smith Jr. and Seth Curry. Four of Dallas’ starters scored in double figures Saturday, with Maxi Kleber setting a new career high 21 points, while the Mavs shot 49% from the floor.
The Spurs got five double digit scorers on the night in LaMarcus Aldridge, Bryn Forbes, Dejounte Murray, Manu Ginobili, and Davis Bertans. Here were four standout players for the Spurs in the win over the Mavericks.
LaMarcus Aldridge: 22 points, 9/18 shooting, 14 rebounds, 2 turnovers in 34 minutes
Aldridge continued to be the Spurs’ go-to option on offense as San Antonio mainly fed him through the low post and allowed him to go to work against Kleber and smaller defenders whenever the Spurs forced the Mavericks into a switch. Six of Aldridge’s points came in the Spurs’ late 13-0 run in the fourth quarter. One of Aldridge’s fading shots out of the post was the basket that tied the game with the Mavs at 96 before Ginobili’s game winner.
Dejounte Murray: 14 points, 6/11 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 fouls, 2 turnovers in 24 minutes
Despite getting into foul trouble in the first half with four fouls, Murray played a more disciplined game defensively in the second half while still being aggressive offensively, especially in terms of attacking the rim or taking the open mid-range looks.
“Dejounte, you know, never has fear,” said Popovich after the game. “I was really happy for his development. He’s learning minute by minute and game by game. He’s just getting wiser and wiser, I couldn’t be happier.”
Murray’s four points in the fourth quarter were the initial building blocks of the Spurs’ 13-0 run as he attacked the rim with aggression and used his length to release the ball higher off the glass and away from the defenders hand.
Davis Bertans: 13 points, 4/8 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 assists in 27 minutes
Bertans came off the bench and had some successful minutes playing the backup power forward. Early in the first half he had a solid two-handed bounce pass to Joffrey Lauvergne on the roll for an open dunk. While Bertans also dunked the ball himself in the game, he said his spot-up shooting ability in drawing and-1 opportunities by getting fouled on 3-point attempts makes the defense mentally think the next time about how they’ll defend him. With Bertans on the floor, the Spurs outscored the Mavs by 29.2 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com/stats. When Bertans was off the floor, San Antonio was outscored by 35.4 PP/100.
Manu Ginobili: 12 points, 5/9 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists in 23 minutes
Even before Ginobili’s game winning layup, he made a stop on the defensive end. When Aldridge tied the game at 96, the Mavericks used their last timeout. On the inbounds, Wesley Matthews tried to inbound the ball to his teammates, but the Spurs’ defenders played pressure defense so Matthews couldn’t find anyone open. With time winding down, Matthews tried to throw the ball off Ginobili and while it did hit Ginobili, it deflected right off Matthews, who was already out of bounds. After the game, Ginobili said it was a lucky play. Ginobili said the ball could have gone in any direction, but on this night, it went right back off Matthews.
With Ginobili on the floor, the Spurs outscored the Mavs by 24.1 PP/100. When Ginobili was on the bench, San Antonio got outscored by 22.5 PP/100.
“He’s our grandpa,” said Murray of Ginobili after the game. “He’s a beast man. I think he’s going to make everything in crunch time.”
Through 30 games this season, the Spurs sit third in the Western Conference with a 20-10 record. The Spurs have the 14th ranked offense (105.1 PP/100) and 5th best defense (101.9 PP/100) as they continue to work players back in that have previously been injured.
The Spurs will have Sunday off before hosting the Los Angeles Clippers Monday in the AT&T Center. Leonard is expected to play in Monday’s game against the Clippers.