The San Antonio Spurs could not complete a furious fourth quarter rally and fell 122-117 to the Dallas Mavericks at the AT&T Center on Friday night.
The loss is the second straight for San Antonio, who lost Dejounte Murray to a sprained ankle in the opening quarter. After trailing by as many as 18 points, the Spurs used an 11-2 run in the fourth quarter to get the deficit down to three points but could not get themselves over the hump to get the win.
“I told them I was very proud of what they did tonight, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They didn’t give in after going down 18.”
Too much Luka
Without their best two defenders, San Antonio struggled to contain Luka Doncic. He scored 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds while getting to the rim with ease. Keldon Johnson fell for a few of Doncic’s pump fakes, giving him space to get the shot off.
Murray’s absence was felt in the final quarter as Luka got into the paint, pulled up from three and was the key cog behind the Mavs offense. When he was double teamed, he found open guys for shots, burning the Spurs.
Vets take control
For the second consecutive game, the Spurs’ veterans took over the game. DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Silver and Black with 29 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists. LaMarcus Aldridge added 26 points and nine rebounds, his second straight solid outing.
Keldon Johnson was the star for the young guns with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Rudy Gay led the way off the bench with 16 points and said after the game that the Spurs’ slow starts are starting to hurt them late in games.
“The beginnings of the games are killing us,” he said. “It’s definitely been a problem.”
Curving the 3-ball
After two bad outings where they struggled from beyond the arc, the Spurs had a much better game from three on Friday. San Antonio finished 12-for-28 from three-point land, shooting 42 percent. That’s up from the 29 percent from their past few games.
Lonnie Walker and Gay connected on three triples while Aldridge led the way for the Spurs with four. If the Spurs can continue to stay consistent from three-point range, they should be able to find easier success in games.
The Spurs will continue their home stretch on Sunday when the Washington Wizards visit the AT&T Center at 7 p.m.