It’s not looking good for the home team right now. Road records, trades, winning streaks…. none of that matters if you can’t get it done in the post-season. The Dallas Mavericks should know that better than any other team, but they still fall apart every year to the point that I’m starting to think they are cursed. Well, forces of darkness aside, the forces of San Antonio took a commanding 3-1 lead in this series with a well fought 92-89 victory. It was close but the Spurs get the W on Tim Duncan’s birthday (34 years old) despite Tony Parker’s best efforts… five turnover having… anyway.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for 31 points on 9-of-34 shooting. Ginobili, playing with bandages on his nose (we don’t need no stinking mask), did finish with 17 points, and Parker had 10 points off the bench. Duncan was particularly bad shooting 1-of-9 from the field and finishing with only four points to go with his 11 rebounds. He didn’t have his first field goal until four minutes left in the game. He sat for about 25 minutes of real time while the Mavs relinquished a 15-point lead in the third quarter by going 4-of-17 and letting DeJuan Blair and George Hill run all over them.
The Mavs responded by getting a technical (Dirk) and a flagrant 2 foul instead of scoring or getting stops. The worst moment came when Eduardo Najera yanked Ginobili down by the neck and was ejected. To be fair, I like Najera and don’t think he is a dirty player. I think he was trying to be physical and it went awry when he basically horse-collar tackled Ginobili. They don’t allow that in the NFL, let alone the NBA so that was it for Eddie in this game after only 47 seconds. DeJuan Blair and Richard Jefferson also had flagrant 1′s.
DeJuan Blair finished with seven points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in only 12 minutes. He only played half the minutes that Haywood or Marion played and about seven minutes less than the useless Dampier, but had a much bigger impact on the game. I also think it’s interesting that Marion is on the bench in the 4th quarter a lot in this series. What is going on with Rick Carlisle? Does he not trust Marion or something? He actually had a decent game this time with 14 points and seven boards, but was a mere spectator down the stretch.
George Hill was the star of this game leading all scorers with 29 points, four rebounds, two steals and a block. He was efficient shooting 11-of-16 from the field including a deadly 5-of-6 from downtown. The Mavs had no answer for him aside from Jason Terry’s late appearance which was nowhere near enough.
Richard Jefferson had his way with the Mavericks again going for 15 points, including a nice dunk under the basket with none other than the defensive stalwart Jason Terry trying to guard him. Of course, Terry rolled his ankle earlier in the game, so I’ll cut him a little slack.
These teams were about even in every way except the Spurs once again shot better at 45.3% to the Mavericks 41.6%. The Spurs were out-rebounded 48-43, but had two fewer turnovers. As Coach Carlisle stated, “If you additionally get your ass kicked on five to seven loose balls, that certainly contributed to losing. We played hard, but there’s a set of plays in the last couple of games where you’ve got to get down and dirty. We have to come up with balls that are 50-50 balls. That’s where the game is being won and lost, in the trenches.”
I don’t see that changing in Game 5. The Mavs better get Joey Crawford and Bennett Salvatore to officiate if they want a chance to win the next one at home.