How it happened: The Mavericks were certainly far more competitive than they were Dec. 23 in San Antonio, where they trailed by as many as 46 before losing by 38. At times, their offense was crisp. They battled the Spurs evenly on the boards. They answered Spurs runs with bursts of their own. They managed to stay in the game much of the time in the first three quarters.
But ultimately, the Spurs have simply played together for too long and have too many good players who are experienced at playing with each other and they coasted to a 111-86 victory.
In his fourth game back after missing the first 27 games, Dirk Nowitzki had eight points while shooting 3-of-9 from the field. He as made 11-of-34 shots (32 percent) since his return, while averaging 7.5 points a game.
Realistically, however, Nowitzki is still in training camp mode and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle warned before the game that judging Nowitzki on a daily basis is a futile exercise. Nowitzki needs at least two more weeks and probably even more than that before he can be close to what he’s been during his career.
What it means: The Mavericks have lost six consecutive games for only the third time in the Mark Cuban era. They leave Monday afternoon for a two-game road trip to Washington and Miami.
Play of the game: The Mavericks trailed 20-6 less than six minutes into the game, but with Elton Brand scoring 10 points and leading the offense, the Mavericks steadily came back. With a little more than three minutes left in the first half, they were within three points, but the Spurs responded with a 13-4 run to close out the half. The final two of those points came on a Ginobili 19-foot jumper with .9 seconds left and punctured any momentum the Mavericks might have had starting the second half.
Stat of the night: Brand had 14 points while making 7-of-11 shots from the field. It was the sixth time in the last nine games Brand had made 50 percent or more of his shots from the field. In his first 15 games, he accomplished that only three times.