On one hand, it was pretty thoughtful of the San Antonio Spurs to decide to give the Dallas Mavericks a thematically appropriate gift to celebrate the return of perhaps the greatest long-range-shooting big man in NBA history. On the other, I'm willing to bet that Mavs coach Rick Carlisle didn't really love San Antonio unleashing hell from behind the 3-point line on Sunday; he probably would've preferred, like, a copy of "Born in the USA" or something.
The Spurs hit 20 of their 30 3-point attempts on Sunday night, setting a new franchise record for long-range success en route to a 129-91 trouncing of their in-state rivals. Nine Spurs made a triple, with shooting guard Danny Green led the way by hitting seven of his eight long-distance tries (and shooting 9 for 10 overall) to score a game-high 25 points. Small forward Kawhi Leonard went 3 for 7 from deep, scoring 17 points and adding five steals in his second game back after missing five weeks with left quadriceps tendinitis, and Tony Parker, Stephen Jackson and Matt Bonner each hit two 3-pointers to help push the Spurs to 21-8, a game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies in the Southwest Division.
On a night where his Spurs — second in the NBA in 3-point makes, fourth in attempts and accuracy — rain down fire on Dallas from deep, predictably, San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich wanted to talk about defense after the game, according to Raul Dominguez of The Associated Press:
San Antonio also had 33 assists, a season-high 17 steals and forced 20 turnovers.
"We don't create that many turnovers normally," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "So that's a heck of a night for us as far as steals are concerned. That's not going to happen very often. We were fortunate it was one of those nights when your opponent has a bad night and you have a great night and it ends up like tonight."
Such "great nights" are starting to become a bit more common for Pop's squad. Sunday marked the fourth time that the Spurs have scored more than 120 points in a game this season, the third time this month and the second time in regulation.
The dubious distinction of joining the Houston Rockets, Charlotte Bobcats and Denver Nuggets in the "We Gave Up 120-Plus to the Spurs" club didn't seem to thrill Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle, who lit into his sloppy and lackadaisical squad both during and after the game, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News:
Late in Sunday’s fourth quarter, with his team trailing by 46 points, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle bellowed for a 20-second timeout.
He walked so far out toward midcourt, glaring at his players, that the referee crew had to move its huddle.
“What the [bleep] are we doing?” Carlisle appeared to holler, if his lips were read correctly. After the game, lip-reading wasn’t necessary.
“We showed a lack of competiveness, selfishness and a lack of commitment to each other,” Carlisle said. “The whole game was disappointing. It is something we can’t accept, and I have to work harder at turning these guys into a team. At this point, we don’t look like we are very close, but we are going to keep at it.”
After Sunday's 38-point blitz — the Mavericks' third straight loss and the sixth in their last seven games — Carlisle put a lump of coal in his 12-16 team's stocking by scheduling a Christmas Eve morning practice.
"I'd love to get everyone two days off, but it isn't happening," Carlisle said, according to Townsend.
Things were a bit cheerier after the game in the San Antonio locker room, where the hot-shooting Green — who'd gone 3 for 17 over his prior three games before finding his stroke on Sunday — didn't want the night to end, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
The man of the hour stayed behind, considering any and all options for taking advantage of his newly rediscovered hot hand.
“Nights like this, you’ve got to press your luck,” guard Danny Green said after equaling a career high with seven 3-pointers to jump start the Spurs’ domination. “Play the lottery. Go to the carnival, and play every game they’ve got.”
So keep an eye out, San Antonio denizens. If you see a 6-foot-6 dude walking down the street carrying every stuffed animal your local family good-time emporium has to offer, flag him down and say hello. Might be an easy way to wind up with an extra stocking stuffer this Christmas.