Time is running out on the San Antonio Spurs to move back into Western Conference playoff contention and things get no easier when they try to snap a two-game losing streak against the visiting Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.
Dallas heads south down I-35 after a 112-109 loss at home to Indiana. Dallas had a 109-104 lead with 3:14 to play but went scoreless the rest of the way, losing for the first time in three games.
Luka Doncic, whose last-gasp 3-point attempt rimmed out, finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Tim Hardaway Jr. highlighted his 30-point performance with six 3-pointers for the Mavericks, who were thwarted in their bid for their first three-game winning streak since mid-January.
"When you struggle at the end of the game you can come up with a lot of reasons and a lot of excuses," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "I just don't think we can do that. I think we all have to own it, we have to look at it objectively and see what we can do better and then simply do better."
Kristaps Porzingis was held to just nine points on 3-of-17 shooting after entering the game with five consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
"It's like that sometimes -- you just don't make shots," Porzingis said. "It came down to those shots (and those situations). There are so many things that could have went better during the game, so many things I could have done better."
Dallas sits in a comfortable spot for the postseason, resting in seventh place in the West, 6 1/2 games clear of Memphis and the playoff line.
The Spurs have dropped the first three game of the season series with Dallas and return home on the heels of 132-129 overtime loss at Cleveland on Sunday. The setback pushed San Antonio to five games behind Memphis for the eighth playoff spot.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 25 points, Rudy Gay and Bryn Forbes scored 19 each, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White hit for 17 points apiece, and Trey Lyles added 13 for San Antonio, who trailed by as many as 17 points in the first quarter on Sunday and led by six in the fourth period.
The Spurs played their sixth straight game without center LaMarcus Aldridge, who has a strained right shoulder. The Spurs were also missing center Jakob Poeltl (sprained knee) for the fourth consecutive game and well as guards Marco Belinelli (illness) and Lonnie Walker IV (left chin injury).
"With all these guys out, we're trying to do everything on the fly," DeRozan said. "It's tough, period. The less bodies, the harder it is. It's exhausting."
San Antonio expects to be without Murray against Dallas after an MRI Monday morning discovered a right calf strain. Murray was injured during the Cavs' loss on Sunday, but no timetable for a return has been announced.
San Antonio has reached the postseason an NBA-record tying 22 straight times but will have to jump four teams to continue that streak.
San Antonio begins a four-game homestand Tuesday, after which it will play Denver, Minnesota and Memphis. The Spurs are 15-14 at home this season.
--Field Level Media