Slumping Spurs look to rebound vs. Mavericks

NBA Basketball

The San Antonio Spurs hope to shrug off their worst defensive performance of the young season when they return home to host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.

The Spurs were run through the ringer on Monday in a 131-118 loss at Indiana. The Pacers shot 63.8 percent from the floor in the first half while building a 22-point lead at the break and never looked back.

San Antonio looked nothing like the team that had surrendered just 93 points on Saturday in a road win against defending league champ Milwaukee. Not even double-figure scoring from eight players against the Pacers could balance the Spurs’ early deficiencies on the defensive end.

“We didn’t have enough guys mentally ready to compete or to execute — for whatever reason,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “It happens in the NBA now and then, but it shouldn’t be happening this early in the year. The game was obviously more important to the Pacers than it was to us.”

Dejounte Murray led the Spurs with 16 points on Monday but was scoreless in the second half. Devin Vassell added 15 while Derrick White contributed 13 points and seven assists.

The Spurs have dropped five of their past six games, and they are 1-2 at home. Doug McDermott, who missed all three games of San Antonio’s just-concluded road trip with a balky right knee, will be a game-time decision to play on Wednesday.

The Mavericks head to the Alamo City for the second game of a home-road back-to-back that began with a 125-110 defeat to the visiting Miami Heat on Tuesday.

Luka Doncic scored 33 points in the loss. Jalen Brunson added 25 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. hit for 17 and Reggie Bullock tallied 10 for Dallas, which never got cut its deficit lower than six points in the second half.

Dallas has had early-season success with its perimeter defense, as contesting its opponents’ 3-point shots has been a point of emphasis for coach Jason Kidd.

“We’re trying to protect the rim and also run guys off threes,” Kidd said this week, according to Mavs.com. “It’s not easy in this league, because everyone’s shooting threes. (Our players) are out there contesting and trying to run guys off (the 3-point stripe) and then sending them to our bigs for the verticality and the physical plays at the rim. We’ve just got to make it as hard as possible.”

The effort wasn’t successful Tuesday, as the Heat made 13 of 25 3-point attempts (52 percent), by far the best rate for a Dallas opponent this season.

The Mavericks will be without Maxi Kleber, who sustained an oblique injury on Sunday and is expected to be out at least a week. Kristaps Porzingis missed his fourth straight game on Tuesday against Miami with a lower back injury, and his availability for the Spurs contest will be determined Wednesday afternoon.

Dallas’ Trey Burke could return to action Wednesday after missing the Heat game due to health and safety protocols. The guard is unvaccinated for COVID, and he didn’t arrive in time for testing ahead of Tuesday’s game, leaving him unavailable.

“We can only talk (to him) about it,” Kidd said. “He has the responsibility to show up on time.”

The Mavericks beat the Spurs 104-99 in Dallas on Thursday behind 25 points from Doncic. Murray paced San Antonio with 23 points.

–Field Level Media

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