“He looked like he was shot out of a rocket there, the first couple of minutes. I don’t know how he did it, but I should find out and have everybody do it before our next game.”
These comments came from San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after his young shooting guard Danny Green led a team effort in victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday in San Antonio 104-87.
Green’s energetic play from the first quarter to the end of the game helped the Spurs as a whole defeat the defending champs. Green finished as the leading scorer with 18 points, six rebounds, and six assists, but it was his defensive tone that set the level of intensity for the entire team.
“That was probably the best part of the game,” Popovich said after,” it didn’t matter who was out there, we were pretty aggressive defensively and we reacted as a team to each other pretty well on defense.”
“Dallas is such a great scoring team; you have to do that if you’re going to have a chance to beat them”
The Spurs jumped on the Mavericks early by getting inside of the paint with a 20-6 advantage in the first quarter. The Spurs were lead by Green’s six points, and Blair’s eight points (only points) in the quarter. The Maverick’s were lead by their big guns in Dirk Nowitzki (16 points) and Jason Terry (18 points) who combined for 14 points in the first, but the Spurs lead 24-21.
With 7:17 remaining in the second quarter, fresh free agent signee Boris Diaw made his way onto the court for the first time in a Spurs uniform, however it wasn’t his offense that impressed his coach and teammates, but more his defense.
“I didn’t envision anything,” Popovich said of putting Diaw into the game in less than 24 hours since he had been in San Antonio, “ I just threw him out there and let him get used to the team and what we’re trying to do.”
“He did a fine job and I thought overall the team defense was pretty good. Boris is a very smart basketball player.”
Even Manu Ginobili (11 points, 7 assists), who started at point guard for the injured Tony Parker was impressed with Diaw’s first game.
“He played well today,” said Ginobili, “besides his D, he’s very active.”
Tim Duncan (15 points, 12 rebounds) also gave his comments on Diaw’s defense on Mavericks forward Nowitzki, “I thought he did a really good job on Dirk.”
Aside from Diaw’s defense in the second quarter, Matt Bonner (14 points) connected on three three-pointers in the second quarter for nine points. The Spurs took a 52-45 lead into halftime, Green had 11 points while Nowitzki was leading the Mavericks with 12 at the time.
In the third quarter, it looked like the Mavericks were finally playing with an edge to them behind Jason Kidd’s (14 points) nine points off of three three-pointers in the quarter , but Spurs forward Stephen Jackson (10 points) wouldn’t allow the Mavericks to go too far ahead as he revamped his team midway through the third quarter.
“He’s got an edge to him,” said Popovich, on Jackson,” he’s got a toughness, a physicality, he’s a competitor and I think our whole team had more energy than the last time we were in Dallas.”
The Spurs closed out the third quarter with a 12-0 run as they took a 70-63 lead into the final period after Gary Neal banked in a three pointer before the buzzer. Nowitzki was held to just two points in the third quarter while Duncan had six points to lead the Spurs in the quarter.
The Spurs turned the closing third quarter into an early productive fourth quarter as they continued to get their run up to 20-2. The young Kawhi Leonard (12 points), along with Green lead the way in the fourth quarter as they combined for 14 points in the final quarter. With 2:01 remaining in the game, Nowitizki was called for a technical foul for jarring at the referee and was pulled from the game, that was the end for the Mavericks as well.
With the win, the Spurs are now 31-14 on the season, but more significantly, 3-1 since making the trade for Jackson.
Green said it best after the game, this definitely isn’t your typical Spurs team, “We have guys that can do many different things, not just shoot threes.”