Mavs’ Kidd: ‘(Jalen)Brunson was great from start to finish’

The undermanned Mavericks(5-3) came into San Antonio on the second half of a back-to-back to face the Spurs(2-6) after falling to the Heat on Tuesday night.

Dallas was again without Kristaps Porzingis(back) and Maxi Kleber(oblique).

But the Mavericks’ backcourt came up big in the fourth quarter. Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson got it done for Dallas down the stretch, and the Mavericks defeated San Antonio 109-108.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and Bottom Line of Mavs’ win over San Antonio.

The Great for the Mavericks:

-Doncic and Brunson: The Mavs starting backcourt combined for 54, 22 rebounds, and 10 assists. Brunson had season-highs in points(31) and rebounds(10); he also added three assists and two steals. Doncic, who had led Dallas in points in the last seven games, scored 23 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Brunson(13) and Doncic(4) had 17 of the team’s 28 points against San Antonio in the fourth.

At one point, Brunson scored 13 straight points for Dallas in the fourth.

-Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals. 

BOBI: Boban Marjanovic scored 17 points on 8/10 shooting and grabbed five rebounds off the Mavs’ bench. Marjanovic made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game when he guarded the in-bound pass that ended with Keldon Johnson throwing the ball away to end the contest.

Not So Great for the Mavericks:

-Dallas allowed the Spurs to score 60 points in the paint.

-The Mavericks were a little sloppy with the ball on Wednesday and had 19 turnovers.

-Injuries: Not only were the Mavs without Porzingis and Kleber, but they lost reserve forward Reggie Bullock, who did not play in the final three quarters after suffering a facial injury. 

Bottom Line:

Dallas may have found something with the Doncic and Brunson backcourt. Brunson takes the pressure off Doncic. He can bring the ball up the court and initiate the offense. In addition, Brunson gives Dallas another shot creator on the floor. It should be interesting to see when everybody returns if Kidd decides to go with Brunson in the starting lineup.

Here is Brunson’s stat line in the last two games as a starter:

25 PTS, 7 REB, 10-13 FG(Heat)

31 PTS, 10 REB, 9-17 FG(Spurs)

“Brunson was great from start to finish,” Kidd said postgame. “He was great (Tuesday) night. Great carryover. He gives us a second ballhandler. Also, he’s a guy who can put the ball in the basket and is comfortable playing alongside Luka.”

What’s Next:

Dallas returns home on Saturday night against the Celtics.

Best of the Rest:

Dejounte Murray led the Spurs with 23 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists; Devin Vassell had 21 points, and Derrick White added 19 points.

Mavs’ Doncic on slow start against Spurs: ‘We shouldn’t let this happen again’

The Dallas Mavericks started very slow on Thursday night. They were down 23-3 in the first quarter. Then, the Mavs’ bench came in and changed things around. 

Ultimately, the Mavericks would take their first lead in the second quarter and hold on to defeat the Spurs 104-99.

Here’s the Great for the Mavericks:

-Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 25 points on 11-19 shooting. Doncic scored 18 of his 25 in the second half, including eight straight points down the stretch in the fourth quarter to give the Mavs a 10-point lead.

-Jalen Brunson came off the bench for 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and a +21 rating in the win. Brunson was the spark for Dallas and a big reason why they were able to get back into the game.

-Maxi Kleber recorded 12 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high-tying six blocks (12/26/18 vs. NOP) off the bench in the win. 

Dorian Finney-Smith finished with 14 points to go with eight rebounds and two steals. Finney-Smith now has eight rebounds in three of the four games this season.

Dwight Powell added 11 points for the Mavericks, while Reggie Bullock made his first start in a Dallas uniform and recorded seven points.

-The Mavericks overcame a 20-point deficit, marking the first time they had done so since 8/10/20 when they were down by 22 and came back to defeat the Jazz.

-The entire bench unit finished with a double-digit positive net rating against San Antonio, led by Frank Ntilikina at +24.

Here’s the Not so Great for the Mavericks:

-While Dallas was able to win this game after being down 23-3, they do realize this is a recipe for disaster. In fact, Dallas has trailed after the first quarter in all four of their games this season, which is an issue.

“We got off to a slow start,” Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said postgame. “I didn’t think we would get off to that slow of a start, but it happens in this league. The character of that bench, the team, playing… they just came in and gave us an energy that was much needed. From that point on, we started to get into the game. San Antonio, again, well-coached, we knew that they were going to put pressure on us. We were just a little slow to start the game, and it’s been like that since the season started. So, we just have to talk about it and address it.”

Doncic added on slow start: “Just a bad start. A really bad one. There was no energy. Everyone was sloppy, starting with me. We shouldn’t let this happen again. It was a terrible sight.”

Bottom Line:

Dallas got an excellent performance from the bench, which saved the day for this team on Thursday night. In addition, they got it done without Kristaps Porzingis(back), who will miss Friday’s game against the Nuggets.

What’s Next:

Mavericks have their first back-to-back of the season when they travel to Denver to battle the Nuggets on Friday night.

Best of the Rest:

Dejounte Murray led the Spurs with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists tonight, finishing two assists shy of his second triple-double in as many games; Jakob Poeltl had 14 points and 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.

Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, Poeltl, and Bryn Forbes react to loss to Dallas:

 

 

Spurs exercise team options on Johnson, Vassell

The San Antonio Spurs today have exercised their fourth-year team option on forward Keldon Johnson, as well as their third-year option on guard Devin Vassell for the 2022-23 season, the team announced on Monday.

Johnson, 22, is entering his third year with the Spurs after appearing in 69 games last season and averaging 12.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 28.5 minutes. He is one of three Spurs in franchise history (Tim Duncan and David Robinson) to record multiple games with 25-plus points and 10-or-more rebounds in their first 50 career games. Johnson was a member of this summer’s Team USA Basketball squad that captured the gold medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Originally selected by San Antonio in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft (29th overall), Johnson has seen action in 86 regular season games, averaging 12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 26.4 minutes.

The 21-year-old Vassell enters his second season with San Antonio following his rookie year when he averaged 5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds in 17.0 minutes over 62 games. He became just the seventh rookie in franchise history to record 50-plus three pointers in their first season. The former Florida State Seminole made his NBA debut at Memphis on Dec. 23, 2020, becoming the first rookie to play at least 20 minutes in a Spurs season-opener since James Anderson (27) on Oct. 27, 2010. Vassell became the first Spurs lottery pick since the 1997 season when the Silver and Black selected him with the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Spurs re-sign Bates-Diop, sign Wieskamp to two-way contract

San Antonio Spurs have re-signed forward Keita Bates-Diop and signed guard Joe Wieskamp to a two-way contract, the team announced on Tuesday.

Bates-Diop, 25. spent last season on a two-way contract with the Spurs, averaging 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.2 minutes over 30 games. The Timberwolves originally selected the third-year player in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft (48th overall); Bates-Diop spent the better part of two seasons in Minnesota before being traded to Denver in 2019. 

Wieskamp, 22, was drafted by the Spurs with the 41st overall selection in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft. He played in all eight of San Antonio’s 2021 Summer League games, including five in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 23.4 minutes. 

 

 

 

 

 

Spurs’ Vassell: ‘We got all the making of a winning culture’

The San Antonio Spurs season ended where it began on Wednesday night as the Spurs fell to the Grizzlies 100-96 at FedExForum in the Play-In Tournament.

With the win, the ninth-seeded Grizzlies will head on the road to battle the Warriors on Friday night. The winner of that game will be the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The Spurs defeated the Grizzlies in Memphis in their season-opener, but it was a different story on Wednesday night.

Grizzlies led by as many as 21 points in the first quarter and had a 38-19 lead at the end of one. However, San Antonio would close the gap in the second quarter and would trail 56-49 at halftime. San Antonio entered the fourth quarter trailing by seven but would take their first lead since the first quarter when DeMar DeRozan made a jump shot to take an 80-79 with over seven minutes to go. However, the Grizzlies would go on a 15-7 run to take control from there.

San Antonio missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season, which is the first time that happened in team history.

Even though San Antonio lost on Wednesday night, Gregg Popovich was happy with the team’s effort. 

“No matter what the mistakes, no matter what the circumstances are, they really fight,” Popovich said. “That’s a good base. So, I’m really proud of the way they conducted themselves and played to win.”

The Spurs have some decent young players in Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV, Keldon Johnson, and according to rookie Devin Vassell, San Antonio has the talent to make noise for years to come.

“I think the sky’s the limit, honestly,” Vassell said after the game. “The young crew, the young core that we have; I mean we got talent, we got grit, we got hustle. We got all the making of a winning culture, and we’re all going to bond together; we’re going to stick together this summer. We’re going to push each other to get better each day. We’re going to come back with a vengeance next year.”

The Spurs are stuck in the middle right now. Too good to get a very good pick and not good enough to make the playoffs. DeMar DeRozan, 31, the team’s best player and closer, will be a free agent, so it will be interesting to see what happens there. This team is still looking for a star, and maybe one of the young guys can be that. 

Also, Gregg Popovich is 72, so it should be interesting to see how many years he has left. The future is not bleak for the Spurs, and the team does have plenty of cap space(over $50 million), but San Antonio is not a major free agent destination, which could make things tricky.

San Antonio still has more work to do if they want to get back to the playoffs and be contenders in the Western Conference.

Spurs hoping to make the playoffs, but they have to get through Memphis

The tenth-seeded San Antonio Spurs are hoping to get back to the playoffs for the 23rd time in 24 seasons when they face the ninth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies on the road in the Play-In Tournament on Wednesday night. The winner of this game will play the loser of Warriors-Lakers for the eighth seed, while the loser’s season is done. 

Last season, the Spurs missed out on the playoffs for the first time in 23 seasons. In reality, for the Spurs to get to this point is a win for this team. San Antonio has one of the youngest rosters in basketball, and it’s never easy to win with young talent. 

Lonnie Walker IV is excited for the opportunity to make the playoffs, and Walker, who played in six playoff games in his three-year career, hopes to get the victory over Memphis on Wednesday night.

‘This is situation that I’ve never been in, and on top of that, we’re trying to make the playoffs,” Walker said. “I’m starving, I’m hungry, I’m excited, and I’m ready to play with my team and get a dub.”

Dejounte Murray knows what’s at stake, and it’s simple for Murray: it’s win or go home. 

“It’s one chance closer to get an opportunity to make the playoffs,” Murray said. “So, win or go home. It’s easy, said and done. You win, and you move on. You lose, and you go home.”

For San Antonio to get to the playoffs, they have to win two games on the road, which might be good for this team. The Spurs have been a better team on the road than at home this season. San Antonio is 19-17 at home but is 14-22 on the road, so maybe being on the road will benefit this team. Memphis took the season-series 2-1, but San Antonio’s only victory against the Grizzlies was in Memphis in the first game of the season. 

These two teams last played at the end of January and the beginning of February in a two-game set in San Antonio, which the Grizzlies swept. Memphis won both games by double-digits. 

At this point, Memphis, who lost to the Blazers in the Play-In game last season, has won five of their last six games, while the Spurs have lost five of their previous six. The Grizzlies are playing better basketball right now, but it’s one game, and anything can happen in a one-game situation, so we’ll see who will win and who will go home. 

Spurs continue their playoff push in Phoenix

The San Antonio Spurs(26-28) had a golden opportunity to gain some ground in the Western Conference standings on Friday night against the Portland Trailblazers(32-23). Portland was without their leading scorer Damian Lillard(hamstring). However, behind C.J. McCollum’s 29 points and 22 from Norman Powell, the Blazers defeated San Antonio 107-106 at AT&T Center.

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 26 points, and Dejounte Murray became the fourth Spur to record three triple-doubles in a single season when he had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists on Friday night.

San Antonio led most of the game and led by as much as 16 points in the third quarter, but Portland closed the third quarter on a 24-8 run to close the gap to two entering the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair, which included seven lead changes, and the Blazers went up for good when Norman Powell made a driving layup with 22.8 seconds left. San Antonio had one final chance to take the lead, but DeRozan would miss a baseline jumper, and Jakob Poeltl would miss the follow at the buzzer. 

DeRozan had a few words with the officials after the game. According to DeRozan, Poeltl was fouled on his shot at the end of the game.

‘It looked liked when Jakob(Poeltl) got the rebound, he got hit,” DeRozan said. “It looked like a foul to me.”

Foul or no foul, the Spurs lose another home game and continue to struggle at AT&T Center, where they are now 12-18. Maybe some good news for the Spurs as they go on the road to battle the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. San Antonio is 14-10 away from home, but beating Suns, who have the second-best record in basketball, won’t be easy. 

San Antonio, who has lost seven of their last nine games, also continues to dip in the standings. They are now the 10th seed in the Western Conference and are one game behind the Warriors for the 9th seed. The Spurs are two games up on the 11th-seeded New Orleans Pelicans, so it’s starting to get a little tight for the Spurs in terms of their playoff spot. Teams 7-10 will be compete in a play-in tournament

Doncic on DeRozan game-winner: ‘He made a hell of a shot’

The San Antonio Spurs(25-26) have had difficulty winning close games of late. During their five-game losing streak, San Antonio lost two games in overtime, and they lost by two points to the Nuggets on Friday night.

Fortunately for San Antonio, DeMar DeRozan came alive against the Mavericks on Sunday night. DeRozan scored 27 of his 33 points in the second half, including the game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds left as the Spurs defeated the Mavericks(29-23) on the road 119-117 to snap their five-game losing streak. 

DeRozan also added eight assists and five rebounds. Kristaps Porzingis led the way for Dallas with 31 points and 15 rebounds, and Luka Doncic added 29 points.

According to the Spurs, since DeRozan was drafted in 2009, he has 27 field goals to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the game (including playoffs). Only four players have more: Damian Lillard (35), Russell Westbrook (32), Kevin Durant (30), and LeBron James (28).

After the game, DeRozan discussed the game-winner.

“Honestly, just trying to get to my spot knowing the clock,” DeRozan said. “Take my time, not rushing, and just going to the move I’ve worked on so many times. Concentrate and knock down a shot.”

Doncic added on DeRozan’s game-winner: “He made a hell of a shot. It was good defending, I think, he made a hell of a shot. Props to him for making the shot.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle had Dorian Finney-Smith guarding DeRozan on the final shot and chose not to bring a double-team. According to Carlisle, that was a mistake.

 “We elected to let [Dorian Finney-Smith] guard him straight-up,” he said. “In hindsight, we obviously should have gone, and that’s on me. That’s my decision. That’s a detailed description of it.”

This was a good win for the Spurs, who continue to be a much better team on the road(13-9) than at home(12-17). However, for the Mavericks, this was a disappointing loss as they had an opportunity to extend their lead in the standings over Spurs and had a chance to get closer to the sixth-seeded Blazers. 

Both teams get back at it on Monday night. The Mavericks host the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded team, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Spurs continue their five-game road trip in Orlando against the Magic.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Sexton, Garland: ‘The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of’

The Cavaliers have not played many complete games this season, but on Monday night in San Antonio, the Cavs did just that.

Cleveland(18-32) won every quarter against the Spurs(24-24) and led by as much as 32 points. The Cavaliers would defeat the Spurs 125-101. Cleveland snapped their five-game losing streak, and the Spurs have now lost three straight. The win over the Spurs was their largest road win for the Cavs since 2017.

The Cavs were led by Darius Garland, who had a career-high 37 points. The second-year guard was 14/22 from the field, including 5-10 from three-point range. Garland also added seven assists. Collin Sexton added 22 points for the Cavs. The Sexton and Garland backcourt combined for 59 points and 12 assists on Monday night. 

Garland has had a lot of success against the Spurs this season. He set his previous career-high of 29 points against San Antonio back in March. According to Garland, he knew that Monday was going to be a good day during shootaround.

“I actually said something at shootaround early this morning,” Garland said. “I was like, ‘It’s going to be a good day.’ Everybody was locked in during shootaround.”

Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with the backcourt play and believes what Sexton and Garland did on Monday night is what elite backcourts do in the NBA.

“The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s what they do consistently. When you think of the elite backcourts in the league, you look at those numbers, and those numbers come consistently, and I think our young guys are still growing. When your backcourt plays like that, that’s how you carry a team.”

Seeing the 21-year-old Garland and the 22-year-old Sexton perform the way they did on Monday night is exciting for the Cavs and gives the team more hope about the future. These two can and have been dynamic at times this season. To Bickerstaff’s point, if they continue to play at this level, Sexton and Garland can carry a team and possibly carry the Cavs to big things for years to come.

Photo: @Cavs/Twitter

Spurs’ Popovich: ‘It’s a mental toughness thing to get through the schedule’

On March 22, the San Antonio Spurs began their season-long nine-game homestand against the Charlotte Hornets. At the time, the Spurs were 22-18 and the seventh-seed in the Western Conference after going 3-2 on a five-game road trip.

Two weeks later, the Spurs(24-23) are 2-6 in the first eight games of this homestand, and San Antonio is now tied with Memphis for the eighth seed in the West. The Spurs will finish off this homestand on Monday night against the struggling Cavaliers(17-32). 

The Spurs, who have lost two straight, have one of the most demanding schedules for the second half of the season along with the Memphis Grizzlies as each team is scheduled to play 40 games over the next 68 days. The Spurs have played nine games over 15 days, followed by a stretch where they’re playing 17 of 22 games on the road, including seven back-to-backs.

The Spurs and Grizzlies are the only two teams without any two-day breaks, have 11 back-to-backs, and will play more games on the road than at home over the next ten weeks.

In their last outing, San Antonio lost to the shorthanded Indiana Pacers in OT 139-133, which was San Antonio’s second straight overtime loss. Indiana was without their leading-scorer Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon.

After the loss to Indiana, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made it clear that the team has to keep working.

“We’ll just keep going,” Popovich said. “It’s a mental toughness thing to get through the schedule, and we just move on.”

Playing at home is usually great for young players, and young players tend to perform better at home, but with nine games and 15 nights, and the limited amount fans, home is not the same. The Spurs should defeat the Cavaliers(lost five straight) on Monday night, but based on the way both teams are playing, who knows what will happen.