D. Clarke Evans/ NBA Photos
Facing their in-state rivals to start the 2014 playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs erased a late 10 point lead by the Dallas Mavericks to take Game 1 of their first round series 95-80 on Sunday, April 20 at the AT&T Center.
Tim Duncan scored nine of his game-high 27 points for the Spurs in the final quarter, seven of which came during a 19-4 run in the final eight minutes of the game. Tony Parker finished with 21 points and six assists, Manu Ginobili led the bench in scoring with 17 points, and the Big 3 combined to score 65 points on a night when the Spurs’ bench was cold.
“Lots of things happened. It’s never one thing in losing a game or winning a game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said about his team’s play down the stretch. “They missed some easy shots, and that helped us. We played some good defense, and that helped us; so a little bit of everything.”
The Spurs endured a scary moment in the third quarter when Duncan went down after bumping knees with Mavericks guard Monta Ellis. During Duncan’s absence the Mavericks were able to take a lead before he returned.
“I didn’t have time to think about the severity of it. You have just got to keep on playing the game,” Popovich said about Duncan’s knee. “They told me he was ready and we got him back in. I think he just bumped knees and it went numb or cold for a while. He didn’t injure it.”
The Mavericks had a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter despite the lack of offense from their top shooters Dirk Nowitzki and Ellis, who each scored 11 points on identical 4-of-14 shooting.
It was Tiago Splitter on this night that got the praise for keeping the All-Star Nowitzki to an anemic scoring night. Splitter had eight points, 11 rebounds and two steals for the game.
“He was very active in there. Tiago did a great job staying up into him, taking away space and making him do something else,” said Duncan. “He did great work on the boards. He rebounded and finished around the basket. Those are going to be big for us.”
In what seemed like a flashback to the 2006 playoff series between the two teams, guard Devin Harris led the Mavericks with 19 points and five assists off the bench.
“Devin is a heck of a player,” said Duncan. “He is a very good scorer and he kind of got away from us tonight. We are going to have to make some adjustments in that respect and prepare for him a little more.”
The Spurs, however, struggled to get help from their bench in the win. Guard Patty Mills only took four shots and made one, Boris Diaw scored four points on 2-of-8 shooting and Marco Belinelli missed all four shots he took. Even starter Danny Green was scoreless.
Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds but struggled shooting the ball as well.
The victory over the Mavericks is the tenth consecutive win for the Spurs against them. But it only means a 1-0 lead in the series.
“You have to give them a lot of credit. They played great defense,” said Parker, who scored 17 points in the first half but was held to just four in the second. “They took away our threes and, offensively, we were struggling a little bit.”
Both teams will have two days to regroup. The Spurs will try to hold onto home court advantage on Wednesday, April 23 for Game 2 of the series.
Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the AT&T Center.