How it happened: The Mavs made the Spurs sweat, but they couldn’t get enough clutch stops to pull off a comeback against one of the West’s best teams.
Dallas sliced a 15-point deficit to as little as three points on a few occasions in the fourth quarter, but that’s as close as the Mavs could get despite big scoring nights from Dirk Nowitzki (25 points), Monta Ellis (23) and Vince Carter (20).
The Mavs had some success with a zone defense to spark their run in the fourth quarter, but that was a temporary solution. The Spurs scored 16 points in the final four minutes to put away the Mavs.
The Mavs did relatively decent defensive jobs against Spurs stars Tim Duncan (21 points, 7-of-16 from the field) and Tony Parker (23, 6-of-18). However, they had no answer for sweet-shooting reserve swingman Danny Green, who scored 22 points on 7-of-7 shooting. Green hit five 3-pointers, including a dagger with 1:59 remaining.
What it means: The Mavs will embark on a three-game road trip after having lost three of their last four games to fall to 16-13. That puts the Mavs in eighth place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs, the West’s third-place team, improved to 23-7.
Play of the game: The Spurs’ clutch execution was as smooth as ever on the corner 3-pointer by Green that stretched San Antonio’s lead back to six. The Spurs worked the ball into Duncan on the left block. When he saw help coming, he found Green wide open in the opposite corner, exploiting a mistake in the Mavs’ rotation. Green swished the shot, his fifth 3 on as many attempts in the game, to make it a two-possession game again with 1:59 remaining.
Stat of the night: The Mavs are 2-3 when they have three 20-plus-point scorers this season.