DALLAS -- During morning shootaround, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich lamented the loss of leadership caused by the absence of veterans Tim Duncan (right knee) and Manu Ginobili (testicular surgery) from the lineup for his team’s matchup against the Dallas Mavericks.
That certainly didn’t leave San Antonio devoid of offensive firepower.
Led by a 23-point night from Kawhi Leonard, a double-double from LaMarcus Aldridge (14 points, 10 rebounds) and 16 points off the bench from Patty Mills, the Spurs drubbed the Mavericks 116-90, and on the way, set some statistical milestones:
-- San Antonio’s 26-point victory marked the club’s 14th by at least 25 points this season, which gives it the third-most wins by 25 points or more in a single season in NBA history, and just one game behind the 1970-71 and 1971-72 Milwaukee Bucks.
-- The Spurs have now outscored opponents by 679 points this season, which registers as the best scoring margin through 50 games in NBA history, according to research from ESPN Stats & Information.
-- San Antonio improved to 42-8 with Friday’s win, which ties with the 2010-11 squad for the Spurs’ best 50-game start in franchise history.
Still, Popovich sees more room for improvement as the Spurs prepare to host the Los Angeles Lakers and finish off Game 2 of a back-to-back.
“Every game has mistakes, [whether] you win by 30 or you lose by 30. It happens to all of us,” Popovich said. “I could go watch the film, and there would be all kinds of things we could improve because it is a game of mistakes. There is never a perfect game. So it goes without saying you can always get better.”
To Popovich’s point, the Mavericks managed to outscore the Spurs 48-30 in the paint and 22-4 on the break. But with 5:57 left to play in the third quarter, Leonard knocked down a pair of free throws to give San Antonio a 39-point lead, the team’s largest margin of the night.
At the half, the Spurs led 62-26, capped by Aldridge’s put-back layup.
“Guys competed. We moved the ball,” Aldridge said. “I thought making the extra pass was big tonight. Guys got a lot of open shots just moving the ball and making extra passes. I thought that was big for us. I wouldn’t say it was easy. We had to compete and execute.”
San Antonio made 51.3 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from three-point range. The Spurs own a 23-0 record when making at least 50 percent of their shots. Interestingly, the Golden State Warriors are also 23-0 when they’re shooting at a 50 percent clip.
The Spurs now own 18 victories by 20 points or more this season. There are five teams in the NBA that haven’t won 18 games all season.
“As far as the analysis, they are a great team. There is no question about that,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “They are one of a small handful that has a shot at it.”