The San Antonio Spurs rebounded from a tough loss to the Dallas Mavericks with perhaps their most dominant performance of the season.
Now welcoming their divisional foes to San Antonio, the Spurs will look to replicate that outstanding effort Friday night in a matchup of teams vying for sixth place in the Western Conference.
San Antonio (45-26) was unable to slow Monta Ellis in a 101-94 loss to the Mavericks (45-27) on Tuesday, as the veteran guard matched a season high with 38 points on 16-of-27 shooting.
”Too much Monta tonight, don’t you think?” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said following the victory. ”The fact that we got in transition got him some easy buckets early and got him rolling.”
The Spurs also failed to defend backcourt scoring in their previous two losses, allowing Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving to score 57 on March 12 before surrendering a combined 43 points to New York’s Langston Galloway and Alexey Shved on March 17. They halted that trend with a shutdown performance against maybe the league’s most dynamic guard, Russell Westbrook, in a 130-91 win over Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Seven players scored in double figures for the Spurs, who held Westbrook to 16 points and four rebounds en route to their season-best 39-point margin of victory.
"I’m still mad from last night," Tony Parker said on Wednesday, referencing his team’s loss in Dallas. "Then we come in tonight and we play great, so this is going to be the challenge this year, to try and find some consistency. If we want to do anything, we’re going to have to play good on the road and put games together, just play for five, 10 games in a row."
Parker scored a team-high 21 points, while Boris Diaw had 19 off the bench to tie his second-best output of the season.
"In general, we played the way we need to play to win a basketball game," coach Gregg Popovich said. "That consistency is what we’re looking for, and we have not gained that yet."
Popovich’s team is one-half game ahead of Dallas in the battle for sixth place in the conference, and a victory Friday would even the season series at two apiece.
Steady play has also been an issue for the Mavericks, who have yet to string together more than three wins since Jan. 7. Their victory over San Antonio snapped a two-game skid, but they’ll be forced back onto the road Friday where they have dropped five of six, beating only the lifeless Los Angeles Lakers in that span.
Dallas’ defense has not faltered on the road, allowing 95.5 points in its last two games. Offensively, however, the Mavericks have been far from matching their 106.4 home scoring average, managing only 92 points in Sunday’s loss to Phoenix and fewer than 90 points in four consecutive road defeats from Feb. 19-March 6.
Dirk Nowitzki was pleased with his team’s effort on Tuesday, but knows that a trip to the AT&T Center promises a different challenge.
"We’ve got to play harder," Nowitzki said of the Spurs. "If your rotations aren’t crisp, if you aren’t up on their shooters, then they have you every single way … Especially at home, they’re really, really good. We have to be ready for a battle."
The Mavericks’ 101-100 loss in San Antonio on Oct. 28 was their eighth straight there in the regular season since a 103-94 victory on Nov. 26, 2010.