Short-Handed Spurs Too Much for Mavs

By PAUL J. WEBER
|  Thursday, Nov 12, 2009  |  Updated 8:45 AM CDT
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Short-Handed Spurs Too Much for Mavs

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker couldn't get San Antonio past Dallas in the playoffs, but the Spurs didn't even need their All-Star duo this time.

Richard Jefferson scored 29 points and the Spurs won again without their two biggest stars, beating the Mavericks 92-83 on Wednesday night in the first rematch since Dallas swiftly booted its division rivals from the playoffs last season.

Back then, Parker and Duncan had virtually no supporting cast while the Mavs ousted them from the first round in five games, San Antonio's earliest playoff exit since 2000.

If this was payback, most of the Spurs' starting lineup had no score to settle.

"I remember walking out in the second half and we were starting four guys that are new for this team," said Jefferson, who had his best game since being traded from Milwaukee this summer. "To have a little success, to give some new guys some extra minutes in the season, is good."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 29 points and 12 rebounds, but the Mavs were done in by awful shooting. Nowitzki was 9 of 27 from the floor, Josh Howard was 2 of 11 to finish with eight points, and the Mavs shot 35 percent as a team.

Nowitzki, who scored 29 points in the fourth quarter a week ago in a win over the Utah Jazz, had 10 in the fourth when Dallas cut a 15-point deficit down to four with under four minutes left. But the rally stalled when Matt Bonner's 3-pointer pushed the lead back to seven.

Bonner's shot came after a missed jumper by Nowitzki, who said he "pressed a little bit" in the second half.

"I probably took a couple of shots that I shouldn't have taken," he said. "But hey, we still had a chance."

Jason Terry added 19 points for the Mavericks and Shawn Marion had 11.

Jason Kidd, who had five points on 2 of 6 shooting and nine assists, said too much fell on Nowitzki.

"We asked him to do way too much tonight," Kidd said. "We asked him to carry the load offensively, defensively and that was just not right for us as a teammate and as a team to put him in that position."

Manu Ginobili had 13 points off the bench while Parker and Duncan continued to rest their sore left ankles. Both were injured Friday night in a loss at Portland and sat out their second consecutive game.

Duncan participated in shootaround about an hour before Wednesday's game but, like Parker, sat on the bench in street clothes. At least one of them is likely to play Saturday against Oklahoma City, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, though he didn't hint as to which one.

The injuries are considered mild.

George Hill scored 11 points in his second start for Parker for the Spurs, who watched the Mavs celebrate advancing to the second round following an easy Game 5 win the last time Dallas came to town.

This one didn't look much like last time.

Aside from four members of San Antonio's starting lineup being new to the Spurs there was Ginobili, who was 3 of 8 from behind the arc after sitting out the Mavs series last spring with two bad ankles.

Ginobili's shot at the halftime buzzer -- a 3-pointer heaved in front of the scorer's table -- finished a 22-8 run that put Dallas at arm's length until the fourth quarter.

The traditionally defense-first Spurs have been anything but so far, entering Wednesday's game allowing an average of 102.5 points per game, putting them in the bottom third of the league. Popovich struggled to explain the slack defense before the game but noted it was slow to catch on last season, too.

He'll feel better about this effort: the Spurs held the Mavs to their fewest points this season.

Keith Bogans had 13 points for the Spurs and was 3-of-6 from behind the arc.

NOTES: The Spurs trotted out their third different starting lineup in three games. ... Mavs F Drew Gooden, benched in his final game during his brief Spurs stint last season, scored two points in 9 minutes. Gooden was playing his second consecutive game since missing four because of a strained rib cage muscle.  

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