How it happened: The Mavs simply couldn’t get enough defensive stops.
Whether it was Tony Parker running the pick-and-roll, Tim Duncan posting up or other Spurs shooting from the perimeter, the Dallas defense had all kinds of problems, which always seems to be the case against San Antonio.
Parker, who played for the first time since before the All-Star break, carved up the Mavs for 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting and seven assists. Duncan, still a fundamentally sound force at the age of 37, had a 17-point, nine-rebound performance. San Antonio was 10-for-27 from 3-point range while shooting 46.4 percent from the floor, with a total of six Spurs scoring in double figures.
The Mavs’ two most experienced players put up enough points to keep the visitors in the game.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting, highlighted by a few one-legged fadeaways that were high-degree-of-difficulty looks, even by his standards. Sixth man Vince Carter scored 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting and hit half of his six 3-point attempts.
Monta Ellis added 17 points, including a driving layup to pull Dallas within five points of the Spurs with 1:19 remaining. But Parker responded with a dagger drive, flipping in an over-the-shoulder lefty layup on the ensuing possession for San Antonio.
What it means: The Mavs remain in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, failing to take advantage of the Golden State Warriors’ loss earlier Sunday evening to the Toronto Raptors. After a strong run during a soft stretch of their schedule, the Mavs have lost two straight games to teams with winning records, dropping to 36-25. The Spurs, the West’s second-place team, improved to 43-16 by extending their winning streak over the Mavs to eight straight games.
Play of the game: Duncan didn’t need to get up in the air to make a circus shot with 5:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. After fighting for position inside Brandan Wright, Duncan caught an entry pass from Tiago Splitter on the left side of the basket, got fouled from behind and flipped the ball off the glass on the other side of the hoop. The and-1 bucket and free throw stretched the Spurs’ lead to nine.
Stat of the night: Carter passed Peja Stojakovic for eighth all-time in 3-pointers made. Carter has made 1,762 3s in his career.