Very little has separated the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks in two meetings already this year.
With that in mind, it would be appropriate to expect the season’s third game of the season, to be contested on Friday in San Antonio, to be close into the final minutes as well.
The Mavericks have taken the season’s first two games in the Lone Star State rivalry, winning 104-99 at home on Oct. 28 and 109-108 on the road just six days later. Both games went down to the final few possessions, and that’s when Dallas made the plays and the Spurs didn’t.
Dallas heads to south Texas after a 117-107 loss in Chicago on Wednesday that snapped the Mavericks’ three-game winning streak. Kristaps Porzingis paced Dallas in the defeat with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
The game’s crucial stretch came late in the second period when the Bulls had a 13-3 run over the final two minutes and Dallas did not respond.
“We started to put a little stress on ourselves in a sense of making shots,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said of that crucial juncture of the loss. “In that stretch we didn’t make shots, we didn’t take advantage of the matchups that were on the floor. Chicago went on a run, and we just couldn’t recover from that.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 21 points, Luka Doncic had a near-triple double with 20 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds and Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson had 12 points each for Dallas.
“We’ve just got to be better,” Hardaway Jr. said. “We can’t keep on saying that. We’ve got to go out there and execute and make sure we do that from here on out.”
The Spurs come into Friday’s game with some momentum after a 136-117 home win over Sacramento on Wednesday.
Dejounte Murray scored 26 points to lead a balanced San Antonio attack. The Spurs led by 14 after one period, by as many as 22 in the second period, by 21 points late in the third and cruised to the finish line to win for the second time in their past three games.
Drew Eubanks hit for 18 and Doug McDermott added 17 points for the Spurs, but it was San Antonio’s bench that was the difference. Four of the Spurs’ reserves — Thaddeus Young (17 points) and Devin Vassell, Lonnie Walker IV and Bryn Forbes (15 each) combined for 62 of San Antonio’s 65 points from non-starters.
Keldon Johnson pulled down 12 rebounds for the Spurs, who scored their most points in a game in the young season and canned a season-best 18 shots from beyond the arc.
“When we got up today, it did feel great to be able to maintain that,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said after the win. “Play good D, rebound, make good decisions on offense, do it as a team, not go off one-on-one, that sort of thing. That was the best part of the game.”
The Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl missed Wednesday’s game, his third straight, as he is in the league’s health and safety protocol. Poeltl is not expected to play Friday and there is no solid timetable for his return.
–Field Level Media