DALLAS (AP)—On a night when Dirk Nowitzki scored just three points in the second half, Dallas’ reserves were outscored for the first time this season and second-year swingman Maurice Ager logged more minutes than he had in all other games this season combined, the Mavericks still had their way with the San Antonio Spurs.
A shift in this fierce rivalry? Hardly. Chalk it up as one of those things that happens over the course of an 82-game NBA season.
Josh Howard sparked first-half spurts of 17-1 and 11-0, putting the Mavericks in charge and keeping them there for a 105-92 victory over their conference, division and state rival.
“We had a terrible first quarter,” said San Antonio guard Tony Parker, who scored only seven points all night, missing 10 of his 11 shots. “We dug ourselves a hole and we couldn’t recover. We gave them too many easy shots.”
The Mavericks came out strong on both ends, leaving the Spurs looking old, slow and unathletic, knocks Tim Duncan’s club has heard before—like before winning their fourth title in nine years this past summer.
But considering it’s not even Thanksgiving, San Antonio certainly isn’t going to panic, even if it needed until 3:39 left in the second quarter to score as many points as Dallas had in the first quarter. The Mavs had 33 in the first and 59 at halftime, marking the most the Spurs have given up in a period and a half so far this season.
“We were ready to come out and play,” said Howard, who scored 13 of his 23 points during the two streaks. “We played really great individual defense and team defense.”
These teams will meet three more times this season and odds are all three will have more sizzle than this one. If anything, this lousy outing will give the Spurs more incentive next time around, on Dec. 5 in San Antonio.
“We definitely respect San Antonio, but I don’t think as much as (others) do,” Mavs reserve Jerry Stackhouse said. “Still, they’ve got the hardware and we don’t.”
The Spurs came in having won four straight and were 7-1, tops in the Western Conference. After getting down by 14 points in the first quarter, they got back within eight points in the second quarter. Then Howard started the second burst and the Mavs were up at least 10 points the rest of the game.
Ager was in the starting lineup as part of an experiment. Coach Avery Johnson wants to see if he can fill the role Eddie Jones had to open the season, but has vacated because of an injury. He made a good first impression, scoring five points—including a high-flying dunk in traffic—with three assists and two rebounds in 21 minutes. He’d seen action in only two previous games, playing less than 13 minutes.
“It felt great,” he said. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for the opportunity to do this.”
He’s going to keep getting it, too, as Johnson had decided to give him at least one more start no matter how he did against the Spurs.
“I’m really going to have some patience there,” Johnson said.
About the only thing that fizzled for Dallas was an attempted “Green Out.” T-shirts were given to fans in hopes of turning the arena green, but way too many fans in the high-dollar seats opted not to wear them or, worse yet, put them on under sports coats.
Duncan bounced back from a five-point, 2-for-13 performance in a rout over the Lakers to score 24 points on 11-of-21 shooting. He left with 3:42 to go after landing awkwardly on his left knee, though simply as a precaution. He also was accidentally stomped in the thigh by Howard in the first quarter.
“I’ll be fine (Friday),” he said.
San Antonio’s other starters besides Duncan combined for only 15 points. That included Michael Finley going scoreless, missing all six of his shots.
The Mavericks’ 59 first-half points were the most the Spurs have allowed since last November, when they gave up 59 to Dallas. … In the third quarter, Ginobili threw a pass about 10 rows into the stands. … Johnson said before the game he wanted his team to get to the line more, noting they were first in free-throw percentage but only middle-of-the-pack in attempts. They tied their season high with 30, but made only 22. … Dallas extended its NBA-best run of sellouts to 238, 276 counting the playoffs. Detroit is second-best at 187. The Mavs’ streak is 10th-longest in NBA history.