Season 51, Game 14
San Antonio 97, Dallas 91
9-5, 3rd in the West
Forget 100; first to 80 was going to win this game.
Don’t let the final score fool you into thinking this was a respectable game of NBA-offense; it wasn’t. Neither team was particularly sharp or efficient. Or shot the ball very well. The Mavs basically had one Barca-inspired spurt to end the 3rd quarter to keep the game respectable, and the Spurs relied on Aldridge bullying his way in the post and getting fouled.
To his credit, Aldridge played this game like a lead player and put the team on his back, particularly in the 4th quarter. As noted, he made his living in the post, scoring on smaller defenders, getting fouled, or both. The Spurs were never able to put the Mavs away, but Aldridge kept the margin comfortable enough to not have to sweat out the game in the closing seconds. It wasn’t pretty, but Aldridge made sure the team got the win.
Mills was the only player on the team who could hit a 3, and his energy and tenacity kept the Spurs in control in the first half. Murray played a solid game, as well, giving us nearly an entire game of competent PG play.
Anderson continued to be solid starting in place of Leonard. He had one magnificent block at the rim on the Mavs’ lightning-quick rookie PG Dennis Smith, Jr., and he continues to surprise opposing teams on both ends of the floor with his long arms, and heater-skelter moves. Asking him to be Kawhi is foolish (obviously); but when Kawhi comes back and Anderson can move to a more natural off-the-bench position, I think he’ll continue to be an overall positive player.
In an interesting rotation quirk, Manu didn’t play the entire first half, but logged 16 minutes in the second half. I’m not sure if Pop intended to only rest him the first half, or wanted to rest him the whole game but felt he needed him to calm the team down in the second half. Either way, Manu helped bring some stability to the team in the second half. I’ll never get tired of watching him play.
This is an odd road back-to-back in Dallas and Minnesota (much further than you might think), so getting the win on the front end is good. Regardless of opponent, splitting these two games is a good outcome, so it’s nice to get that win out of the way.
Playing the Timberwolves on Wednesday night will be a good test for the team. After beating them on opening night, the Wolves have been one of the better teams in the Western Conference. Let’s see if the Spurs can continue to play strong defense and improve their offensive performance.
Go Spurs Go.