Spurs keep winning without Duncan, PopovichBy The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sat, Jan 26, 2013 12:10 AM EST
DALLAS -- The streaking San Antonio Spurs were already without ill coach Gregg Popovich and All-Star forward Tim Duncan. Then they lost All-Star point guard Tony Parker for all but three minutes of the first quarter after two cuts to his left eye that would require three stitches to close. None of it stopped the Spurs from continuing their season-long demolition of the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at American Airlines Center. San Antonio added a 113-107 victory -- a score not indicative of the lead San Antonio held most of the game -- to victory margins of 38 and 25 points in the first two meetings. The Spurs have now won seven in a row and improved their record to 35-11, taking their last two without Duncan, who's nursing a sore left knee, and Popovich, who has been knocked out by an illness. "They have our number and it is what it is," Mavs forward Shawn Marion said. "We can do anything and everything sometimes and they seem to just get what they want anytime they want. We weren't able to take them out of things they want to do. We had a stretch where we were looking good and we had some good looks, but we couldn't make no shots." Dallas, which had won five of six games before entering a four-day break, started slowly, trailed by 10 at halftime and then were blown out by a 19-6 Spurs run early in the third quarter. The lead would grow to as many as 26 points before Dallas found a bit of life and slowly made a push to get back in the game. The Mavs, dropping to 18-25, cut the lead to 101-90 with less than four minutes to go, but Parker's back-to-back baskets on hard drives built the lead back up to 15 with 3:12 left. An 11-0 Mavericks run in the final minute helped to close the gap. "He came back and really put us on his shoulders," said Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer, who took over for Popovich. "There was a time when it [the lead] got down to 10 or 11 in the fourth quarter and we were all nervous and he made a couple of huge plays and really gave us that extra separation that we needed." Parker, who returned to the game in the second quarter, produced another big game, showing why he was added as a reserve to the West All-Star team on Thursday. He finished with 23 points and 10 assists, dicing up the Mavs' defense during that killer spurt in the third. Scarcely used Spurs big man DeJuan Blair filled in for Duncan with somewhat of a Duncanesque performance, scoring 17 of his season-high 22 points in the first half. He made 10 of 13 shots in just 19 minutes. The last time Blair scored in double figures was on Nov. 28 when he had 11 against Orlando. The Spurs had five players in double figures before four minutes elapsed in the third quarter and seven reached double digits by time the game was over. Tiago Splitter posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Gary Neal had 18 points and Danny Green hit for 11 points, including going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. "When we play without [Duncan], we need everybody," Blair said. "Everybody has to step up. Tony came back and stepped up when we needed him. I was ready. We were all ready and it was great. It was a pretty fun game." Dallas didn't get much help from its backcourt, with O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison going 1-of-6 from the 3-point arc. Collison finished with 13 points, thanks to late flurry, and two assists. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 15 points, but he struggled with his shot, especially in the crucial final few minutes when he couldn't convert a pair of jumpers. Vince Carter led Dallas with 17 points and Roddy Beaubois turned in one of his best games of the season with 19 points in less than 16 minutes. "When you play a good team like that, it's imperative to come out ready to play and you have to hit them first," Carter said. "They are a system team that sticks to the system and it doesn't matter who's in there or who's gone, they know what to do. They hit us first and we were able to stay close in the end and able to at least compete." Notes: Mavs owner Mark Cuban said he's not interested in bringing back Delonte West, despite the guard signing with the club's D-League affiliate Texas Legends on Friday. ... It's uncertain whether Popovich will return Sunday against Phoenix ... Second-year forward Kawhi Leonard returned after missing one game with a lacerated left knee. ... The Mavs had a rare four-day break, having not played since Sunday at Orlando.
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