AT&T CENTER – The San Antonio Spurs fell to 2-6 for the season after another close loss the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday.
The Mavericks built an early 12 point lead, but the Spurs were able to overcome the deficit and build their own 10 point lead in the third quarter. The Mavericks would cut the Spurs’ lead down to two going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, both teams battled back and forth, with Dejounte Murray scoring 9 of the team’s 25 points in the fourth quarter. Jalen Brunson once again led Dallas down the stretch with 13 of the Mavericks’ 28 points in the fourth.
When the final whistle sounded though, it was Dallas who won the game 109-108, keeping the Spurs winless when falling behind by double digits in a game (0-5).
“It’s not fun because we’re in all these close games, but we hurt ourselves (toward the end),” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich after the game.
Spurs Won Paint, but Dallas Won Every Other Scoring Area
In their last game against Dallas, the Spurs were held to a season low 42 points in the paint. With Maxi Kleber out for Dallas and the Spurs playing smaller 5-man lineups on the floor, the Spurs scored a season high 66 points in the paint.
Murray scored 10 of his 23 points in the paint, Devin Vassell scored 10 of his 21 points in the paint, Derrick White scored 10 of his 19 points in the paint, and Keldon Johnson scored 14 of his 16 points in the paint.
Without Jakob Poeltl, the Spurs held the Mavericks to 50 points in the paint, which was still a concerning spike since Dallas doesn’t usually score that many points in the paint.
12 of Brunson’s 31 points were scored in the paint and Boban Marjanovic had an impact on the game, with 14 of his 17 points coming down low anytime he could get a switch on to the Spurs’ smaller guards.
“He’s big, he wants to get to his right hand,” said Drew Eubanks of Marjanovic after the game. “You’ve got to push him out (of his spots).”
While both teams struggled from three, the mid-range shot was crucial down the stretch. With the Spurs going small, they put Doug McDermott at the 5. In the fourth quarter, Brunson and Luka Doncic continued to target McDermott in the pick-and-roll to get him switched on to one of them. When this happened, Brunson was able to get to the paint or get a good shot from mid-range.
Brunson also accounted for 12 of the Mavericks’ 21 made free throws. Those 21 free throws are the most the Spurs have allowed to an opponent this season.
“He just killed us in both games,” said Murray of Brunson after the game. Brunson scored 19 points for Dallas in their win last week against the Spurs. “In the fourth quarters he got us both times,” said Popovich of Brunson’s play down the stretch.
One last concerning sign for the Spurs in their first game without Poeltl was the Mavericks collecting an opponent season high 15 offensive rebounds.
The Spurs will be off Thursday before resuming play Friday in Orlando.