SAN ANTONIO – Spurs coach Gregg Popovich never has been one to mince words when it comes to assessing his team’s performance. Still, he was in rare form Monday night after watching his team struggle to beat the injury-depleted Dallas Mavericks 96-91.
“That was a pathetic performance on the part of the Spurs,” Popovich told reporters. “You know they had some guys out, we had some guys out, but they had a lot more out than we did.”
The Mavs played without four players sidelined with injuries, including future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, who is nursing a right Achilles strain. Nowitzki, J.J. Barea (left calf strain) and Deron Williams (left calf strain) did not travel with the team, and Devin Harris also sat out the game with sprained right knee and toe.
Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (rest) and point guard Tony Parker (rest) suited up but were late scratches, and rookie backup guard Nico Laprovittola (tooth extraction) also did not play.
Dallas hung tough although it was woefully short-handed, leading 28-24 after one quarter and 49-48 at halftime. The score was tied at 73-73 at the end of the third quarter.
Wesley Matthews hit a free throw to cut the Silver and Black’s lead to 92-91 with 1:14 remaining, but Manu Ginobili and Danny Green each sank a pair of free throws in the final 15 seconds to secure the victory.
“I thought we showed a lack of humility, a lack of respect for the opponent, a very pathetic performance at both ends of the court, both in execution and in grunt, in fiber, in desire,” Popovich said. “It was an awful performance. Oh, and they deserved to win the basketball game. I forgot to say that.”
The Spurs improved to 11-3, 4-3 at home, with their sixth consecutive victory. The loss was the sixth in a row for the Mavs, who have the worst record (2-11) in the NBA.
San Antonio plays its next three games on the road, starting with Charlotte on Wednesday night. The Silver and Black are 7-0 away from the AT&T Center, where they were 40-1 last season.
Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 24 points and nine rebounds. He also had four assists and one steal. Three other San Antonio players scored in double figures: Patty Mills (17), Pau Gasol (16) and David Lee (12).
“We let ourselves down in terms of bringing the energy and effort that we usually are pretty solid at,” Mills said. “I don’t think we were consistent throughout tonight. We win them together and lose them together. We get better together. There are things, obviously, that we can work on from that game, moving on to the next one.”
Rookie Dejounte Murray started for Parker and David Bertans, also a rookie, stepped in for Aldridge.
Seth Curry scored a team-high 23 points for Dallas, making 9 of 16 shots, including 5 of 10 from beyond the arc. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews added 20 points apiece and were the only other Mavs finishing in double figures.
Ginobili echoed Popovich’s words while reflecting on the victory.
“It was a very poor game,” he said. “We didn’t bring the energy we needed to bring against any NBA team. Probably the fact that we got a couple of days off, playing against Dallas, who is struggling, hurt. That probably didn’t help to bring the concentration and the attention that we needed.
“Once they got up at halftime, and most of the game actually, they got cocky, and that’s what happens in the NBA. Every team has a lot of talented guys that can get hot and make things happen. We were irresponsible and not as sharp as this league demands you to be.”
The Spurs don’t play another home game until they face Orlando next Tuesday night.
Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the Mavericks-Spurs game Monday night:
Final: Spurs 96, Mavs 91. Silver and Black hit four consecutive free throws in final 15 seconds to pull out the win. S.A. improves to 11-3 with its sixth victory in a row and Dallas drops to 2-11.
Fourth quarter (4:21): Spurs 89, Mavs 86. Patty Mills scores on a fast-break layup after taking a pass from Kawhi Leonard.
Fourth quarter (7:26): Mavs 82, Spurs 81. Seth Curry hits a jumper from the top of the key to put Dallas up by one.
Fourth quarter (10:41): Spurs 80, Mavs 75. Pau Gasol scores under the basket, Patty Mills nails a 3-pointer and Kyle Anderson tips one in as S.A. outscores Dallas 7-2 early in the fourth.
End of third quarter: 73-73. Kawhi Leonard leads the Spurs with 19 points, followed by Pau Gasol (14) and Patty Mills (11).
Third quarter (4:02): Mavs 63, Spurs 62. David Lee hits a jumper and slams home another basket after getting a steal, pulling the Spurs to within one.
Third quarter (6:36): Mavs 62, Spurs 54. Wesley Matthews scores Dallas' first nine points of the second half with three consecutive 3-pointers.
Halftime: Mavs 49, Spurs 48. Seth Curry hits two late 3-pointers to give Dallas a one-point lead at the half.
First-half notes: Kawhi Leonard scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting to lead the Spurs. He was the only San Antonio player in double figures . . . Seth Curry (17) and Harrison Barnes (10) led the Mavs. Curry converted 6 of 8 shots, 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
Second quarter (3:52): Spurs 40, Mavs 39
Second quarter (5:19): Spurs 38, Mavs 35. Kawhi Leonard hits a 3-pointer and Danny Green makes two free throws to put the Spurs up by three.
End of first quarter: Mavs 28, Spurs 24. Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 10 points in the opening period. Harrison Barnes had 10 points to pace Dallas.
First quarter (5:39): Mavs 16, Spurs 12
Pregame notes: Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (rest), point guard Tony Parker (rest) and backup guard Nico Laprovittola (tooth extraction) will not play against Dallas. Davis Bertans started for Aldridge and Dejounte Murray subbed for Parker.
SPURS GAMEDAY: Silver and Black play injury-riddled Mavs on Monday
Dallas Mavericks (2-10) vs. Spurs (10-3)
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m., Monday, AT&T Center
Mavericks’ last game: Lost to Orlando 95-87, Saturday, Orlando
Spurs’ last game: Beat Los Angeles Lakers 116-107, Friday, L.A.
Notable: The Mavs have the worst record in the NBA.
SAN ANTONIO – Talk about two teams headed in opposite directions. One month into the NBA season, the injury-depleted Dallas Mavericks have lost as many games as the Spurs have won.
The Mavs have dropped five in a row and own the NBA’s worst record (2-10). The Spurs (10-2) have won their last five to remain near the top of the Western Conference, behind the Los Angeles Clippers (12-2) and Golden State Warriors (11-2), who own the best records in the league.
Records hardly have mattered when Interstate 35 rivals Dallas and San Antonio have clashed in the past. They’ll meet for the first time this season Monday night at the AT&T Center, where the Mavs usually have a sizable contingent of fans cheering them on.
Even when the Spurs rolled to their last championship in 2014, it took them seven games to finally get past No. 8 seed Dallas in a grinding first-round series. But with four of their top eight players, including future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, nursing injuries, the Mavs could be hard pressed to get a road win in the Alamo City.
The Spurs announced before the game that Tony Parker (rest), LaMarcus Aldridge (rest) and Nico Laprovittola (tooth extraction) will not play.
Dallas is coming off a 95-87 road loss to Orlando and faces a challenging three-game stretch this week. After facing San Antonio, the Mavs host the Clippers on Wednesday and play the defending league champion Cavaliers on Friday in Cleveland.
Nowitzki (Achilles strain), J.J. Barea (calf strain) and Deron Williams (calf strain) did not travel to San Antonio, and Devin Harris is out with a toe sprain.
Injuries have taken such a toll on Dallas that coach Rick Carlisle has had to cobble together nine different starting lineups in the team’s first 12 games of the season. Mavs players already have missed a combined 33 games.
The offensive leader for the Mavs on Saturday night was rookie point guard Jonathan Gibson, who came off the bench to score a game-high 26 points. Gibson had 11 points in his NBA debut the previous night in an 80-64 home loss to Memphis. He hit 8 of 16 shots against Orlando, 4 of 5 from the 3-point line, and added six rebounds and three assists. But he also finished with a game-high six turnovers.
Gibson has played overseas since completing his college career at New Mexico State in 2010. He played with Dallas in the Las Vegas Summer League this year and was among the last roster cuts before the start of the season.
The Spurs have reeled off five consecutive wins since Nov. 11, when they beat Detroit to break out of a three-game home skid. The Silver and Black hadn’t lost three consecutive games at the AT&T Center since December 2014.
Seven Spurs players scored in double figures in the victory over the Lakers on Friday night. Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who had a game-high 12 rebounds, led the way with 23 points each. The team’s other three starters also scored in double digits, with Pau Gasol and Parker finishing with 16 points apiece and Danny Green adding 10.
Leonard and Parker dished out seven assists each Green had six. Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili led the San Antonio bench with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The victory against the Lakers gave Spurs coach Gregg Popovich 1,099 regular-season wins, moving him ahead of mentor and former Spurs coach Larry Brown for No. 7 on the NBA’s career list.
Next up for Spurs: at Charlotte, Wednesday, 6 p.m.