Spurs bring five-game losing streak to Dallas
Having shown that they can hang with the NBA's best teams, the Dallas Mavericks are in prime shape to continue improving when they host the struggling San Antonio Spurs on Monday.
Well, not so fast. Even in a swoon, you can never count out the Spurs, who are smarting after a series of close losses.
The Mavericks enter the contest on the heels of a 110-102 home win against the defending champion Toronto Raptors. Luka Doncic had 26 points, including a career-best 15 free throws in a career-high 19 attempts, 15 rebounds and seven assists in Saturday's victory.
Kristaps Porzingis added 20 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds for the Mavericks, who had lost their two previous games. Seth Curry and Delon Wright each had 15 points and Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith each scored 10 in a game that Dallas took over in the fourth quarter.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said the production of Porzingis at both ends of the floor was probably the best he's had all season.
"I love the way he moved and played within the team system," Carlisle said. "We made some real progress as a team, especially with that first unit."
The Mavericks' next three games, all at home, are against three teams -- the Spurs, Warriors and Cavaliers -- that have won five of the past six league titles.
"This is a tough homestand," Carlisle said. "It's a great opportunity, certainly, to be home. We'll find out a lot. I don't know exactly what it will tell me or us, but the opportunity to compete at home in front of your fans, it's a big deal and it's a big opportunity."
The Spurs will stagger their way up I-35 after dropping their fifth straight game, a 121-116 loss at home to Portland. It was San Antonio's eighth loss in its last 10 games and the second consecutive game that the Spurs have had leads in the fourth quarter and not finished.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 30 points and a season-high 13 rebounds in the loss to the Trail Blazers. Bryn Forbes scored 17 points and Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan added 16 each.
It's the first time San Antonio has lost five straight since the 2010-11 season.
"I thought we competed for more of the 48 minutes than we have in other games," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "By compete, I mean, being as physical as we need to be and executing defensively and rebounding-wise as much as we need to be. I was really proud of them."
The game had some added drama when Popovich was ejected with 9:37 left in the third quarter. His exit led to speculation that assistant coach Becky Hammon would make history as the first woman to coach in a regulation NBA game, but it fell on Tim Duncan to lead the team.
Asked who was acting head coach after his ejection, Popovich said: "Timmy was."
Was there any consideration given to making Hammon the acting coach and making history? "I'm not here to make history," Popovich said.
The Spurs played without point guard Dejounte Murray, who was given the night off to rest on the second night of a back-to-back. Murray missed the 2018-19 season with a knee injury and is on a doctor-prescribed minutes restriction.
--Field Level Media
Updated November 17, 2019