The Dallas Mavericks will look to continue their climb up the Western Conference standings and take advantage of a rare break from the rigors of the COVID-influenced NBA schedule when they host the reeling San Antonio Spurs on Sunday evening.
The Mavericks have won six of their past seven games to move into the seventh spot in the West. Dallas’ most recent game was a 116-101 home win over short-handed Milwaukee on Thursday that came a night after the Mavs lost at Houston.
“It was a very competitive game, a combative game — a lot of emotional things going on out there,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “But the No. 1 overall positive in the game was how we held our poise. We’re proud as a team. Great bounce back after the disappointment of (Wednesday) night.”
On Sunday, Dallas will look for the first season sweep of the Spurs in the 41-year history of the Mavericks’ franchise. The Mavs beat San Antonio on the road by five points in January and by 11 in Dallas last month.
Luka Doncic scored 27 points to lead the Mavericks past Milwaukee on Thursday, but it was Kristaps Porzingis who had the game’s most important stretch.
Porzingis, playing on consecutive days for the first time since January, scored 11 points in the fourth quarter Thursday when Dallas clinched the game. He finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds.
Josh Richardson scored 14 points, and Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 12 each for the Mavericks in the win.
There has been some question about the on-court chemistry between Doncic and Porzingis, the Mavericks’ two bona fide stars, but winning the way Dallas has lately has doubters backing off some.
“Yeah, we’re trying to play together and help each other,” Porzingis said after the victory Thursday. “We want to win. At the end, we all want to win the game. We have to keep playing and keep playing together and keep playing well and help each other.”
The Spurs head to Dallas on the heels of a 121-119 loss to Denver on Friday in the second game of a two-game series between the teams in the Mile High City.
San Antonio never led in the game but had three chances to tie in the final 5.1 seconds after mounting a rousing fourth-quarter comeback. Instead, the Spurs suffered their fifth straight loss, a season high for consecutive defeats and their longest since they dropped five in a row from Feb. 3-10, 2020.
San Antonio has lost 10 of its past 12 games and is free-falling in the Western Conference standings.
“We kept fighting — we kept competing,” San Antonio guard Derrick White said. “That’s kind of been our mantra all year, just keep getting back into it. We upped our physicality a little bit, started getting going a little bit. Can’t keep digging ourselves into those holes, but it was nice to fight back.”
All five starters scored in double figures for the Spurs on Friday’s loss. White led the way with 25 points, DeMar DeRozan added 24 points and 12 assists, Keldon Johnson and Rudy Gay scored 15 each, Jakob Poeltl recorded 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Dejounte Murray hit for 12 points.
DeRozan said the Spurs understand they are going to have to take the lead in getting over the hump and back on the winning track.
“We are not putting a Batman sign up in the sky, waiting on Bruce Wayne to come,” DeRozan said. “We are definitely going to figure it out.”
–Field Level Media