Spurs edge out season opener
The San Antonio Spurs (1-0) opened the season narrowly defeating their in state rival Dallas Mavericks (0-1) 101-100 in a hasty finish on Tuesday, October 28 at the AT&T Center.
Tony Parker led the way for the Spurs finishing the game with 23 points, three assists and three rebounds while going 4-for-4 from the three-point line.
Spurs big man Tim Duncan had his 14th double-double to start the season — an NBA record. Duncan ended the night with 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Manu Ginobili also had a great night, adding 20 points, six assists and two steals from the bench.
“You never know who is going to step up, he had a great game,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich on Tony Parker. “He’s the guy who’s going to energize us and we got to ride him a little bit. His play at both ends of the court is going to be key for us every night.”
The night was nearly spoiled for the champions — who unveiled their fifth championship banner and received their glittering rings — as the Mavericks arrived determined to show improvement from last season.
San Antonio struggled with turnovers for most of the night, committing 20. Despite the lull in passing, the Spurs made up for it with accurate shooting going 50% from three on 14-of-28 shooting and hitting 52.9% from the field.
“We competed really well in the second half,” said Popovich on his team’s play. “That’s half or more of the battle; but execution was wanting.”
At halftime, the Spurs had over 8 turnovers and looked devoid of creating any rhythm. Dallas capitalized on the turnovers, increasing their lead by eight and ending the half leading 53-45.
San Antonio battled back, outscoring Dallas 31-20 in the third quarter to head into the fourth leading 76-73.
With just over nine minutes to play in the fourth, the Spurs extended their lead to nine with the score 86-77.
Over the next few minutes, the Mavericks outscored San Antonio 23-15 to end the game with a tense last few seconds.
Dallas took a 100-98 lead with 1:22 left to play before Parker drained his fourth consecutive three of the night — a personal record.
“Tony has been pretty good lately, especially from the corners,” said Ginobili on his French teammate. “Then of course he went three for three and the fourth; he sunk it. He’s a reliable shooter and he’s going to make shots.”
The Spurs held Dallas in the dying moments of the game to edge out their first victory of the season.
Notable absentees from the game were Spurs guard Patty Mills (arm), center Tiago Splitter (calf) and forward Kawhi Leonard (eye infection).
The Spurs play a young athletic Suns team next in Phoenix on Friday, Oct. 31. The team looks to welcome back the 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to help slow the Phoenix offense.
“I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing he’s probably good for Friday,” said Popovich on Leonard’s status for Friday’s game. “Tiago will be out and Mills will be out but Kawhi might be back.”
Tipoff is set for 9 p.m.