After being stifled by the Spurs in two losses earlier this season, the Mavericks again put their high-scoring offense to the test against San Antonio’s league-leading defense when the Southwest Division rivals meet at SBC Center.
The Mavericks, trailing the first-place Spurs by five games, are second in the NBA with a 102.4 scoring average, but have been limited to just 84.5 in two losses to the Spurs.
Dallas shot just 38.9 percent from the field (28-for-72) and put up a season-low point total in a 94-80 defeat at San Antonio on Nov. 24. The Mavericks committed a season-high 22 turnovers and managed just 10 assists in a 107-89 home loss to the Spurs just six days later.
The Spurs are allowing a mere 85.7 points per game this season, and have held the opposition below 80 eight times. They haven’t given up 100 points since a 102-96 loss to Seattle on Dec. 8.
The Mavs, averaging 119 points over their last four games, had their season-high five-game win streak snapped with Wednesday’s 124-114 home loss to Houston.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 28 points, despite an 18-minute scoreless drought over the middle two periods. Michael Finley, coming off a season-high 33 points against Indiana on Saturday, missed nine of his first 10 shots and finished with 14 points.
Dallas may be scoring at an accelerated rate of late, but its defense has remained suspect. The Mavs allowed the Rockets to connect on 61 percent of their shots (47-for-77), including 12 of 25 attempts from beyond the arc.
“I thought our defense let us down a little bit, but I’m not sure that it mattered that much,” Mavs coach Don Nelson said. “They were making every shot. They had a real good rhythm and flow to their game and we didn’t.”
Dallas’ top defender, forward Josh Howard, was out with an upper respiratory infection and is questionable against the Spurs.
The Spurs rebounded from a heartbreaking 97-96 loss at Utah on Monday—just their third defeat in 16 games—with a 94-79 home victory over Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Tim Duncan scored 21 points, and the San Antonio bench contributed 31 to send the Spurs to their 10th straight home win and improve the NBA’s best home record to 18-1. Tony Parker added 20 points and eight assists, Manu Ginobili scored 15 points and Brent Barry added 11.
“We are pretty happy with tonight’s effort,” said Parker. “It was a good team effort. We just tried to close the game out tonight. We didn’t do a very good job against Utah, and we wanted to be better tonight.”
San Antonio, which doesn’t face Dallas again until April 7, plays three of its next four games at home.