[April 29, 2014]DALLAS — San Antonio coach Gregg
Popovich questioned the Spurs' resolve after their heart-wrenching Game
3 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
There was little to question after Monday night's Game 4 in the
Western Conference opening-round playoff series.
With their season likely on the line, the Spurs found new life by
slipping by the Mavericks 93-89 at American Airlines Center.
San Antonio tied the series 2-2, and it heads home Wednesday night
for Game 5. A return to Dallas is guaranteed Friday for Game 6 in a
closeout chance for one of the two Texas rivals.
"We were playing a good team and they played really well," Popovich
said. "It's the playoffs. Every team is going to make runs. You're
not going to play great anything for 48 minutes."
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili came off the bench to score a game-high 23
points, and forward Tim Duncan added 14 points and 10 rebounds. San
Antonio reserves accounted for 50 points, with forward Boris Diaw
(17 points) and guard Patty Mills (10) also scoring in double
Popovich said after Dallas won Saturday on guard Vince Carter's
3-pointer at the buzzer that the Mavericks simply wanted it more.
That thinly veiled motivational tactic appeared to fire up his
The Spurs led 58-38 in the third quarter before Dallas reeled off a
14-2 run behind guard Monta Ellis to get back in the game. San
Antonio's lead was 73-65 going into the final quarter.
"They came out very physical in the third quarter," Popovich said.
"They did a good job. We had a couple turnovers, a couple of bad
shots and it turned. It's not just defense. It's a lot of things
when you go up by a bit or give up a run. It happens in every game."
The Mavericks kept coming. Forward Dirk Nowitzki's short jumper cut
Dallas' deficit to 77-75. Reserve forward Jae Crowder's layup on the
break tied it 77-77.
Dallas took its first lead since early in the second quarter on
center DeJuan Blair's layup that made it 81-80 with less than five
minutes left. Ellis' three-point play tied the score at 87 with 52
Diaw followed with a 3-pointer to put San Antonio back on top to
stay. The Spurs wanted to get Nowitzki guarding Diaw in a
pick-and-roll with guard Tony Parker.
"It's harder for Dirk to be able to help and come back to the player
that set the screen," Diaw said. "That's why I was the one on that
pick-and-roll. That's exactly what happened. He helped on Tony and
he was a little late, and I was wide open for the 3."
Nowitzki's layup pulled Dallas within 90-89, and after a Ginobili
free throw, Ellis missed a game-tying layup in the final seconds to
seal San Antonio's victory.
"I had a good look at the end but it didn't go down," Ellis said.
Ellis scored 20 and Nowitzki finished with 19 points, the fourth
consecutive game in the series he failed to reach 20. Blair roughed
up his former team with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 16 minutes off
the bench, but he was ejected with 3:08 left for kicking Spurs
center Tiago Splitter in the head.
Blair's absence down the stretch swung the momentum, according to
his teammates and coach Rick Carlisle. Blair called the kick
"It was clearly a reaction to the (foul) call," Blair said. "I
didn't know his face was down there."
After trailing by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, the
Spurs took their first lead (27-25) on Duncan's short hook early in
the second. A 3-pointer by Ginobili opened up a 39-27 edge midway
through the quarter, as the Mavericks went more than six minutes
without a basket.
Duncan's layup in the final seconds gave the Spurs a 50-36 lead at
halftime. Ginobili had 15 points at the break and Duncan had 12. San
Antonio was shooting 53 percent at that point.
Carlisle was most disappointed with the Mavericks' effort in the
"I'm glad we showed that we were willing and able to fight in the
second half," he said, "but the way we performed, just
competitively, is inexcusable."
The Mavericks were shooting less than 30 percent at the half despite
getting off to a fast start. Ellis drilled a 3-pointer for a 9-2
Dallas lead, coaxing an early timeout from Popovich. Dallas went up
12-2 before San Antonio began finding some offensive rhythm.
The Spurs appeared frustrated by a number of point-blank misses to
start the game, including a stretch of 10 consecutive shots that did
not fall. Ginobili led a push by the second unit to get San Antonio
within 23-18 at the end of the period.
NOTES: The Mavericks and Spurs both expressed their solidarity with
the Los Angeles Clippers in response to Donald Sterling's alleged
racist comments. Dallas players wore black socks, as other NBA
playoff teams have done. (The Spurs always wear black socks on the
road.) "We all feel the same way," Popovich said. "It's not just
inappropriate, it's disgusting. It's something that has to be
handled. We have full faith that the NBA will react appropriately."
... The Mavericks committed nine turnovers, giving them 38 in the
series. The Spurs gave the ball away 15 times, raising their series
total to 61. ... San Antonio scored 46 points in the paint, compared
to 28 for Dallas.