The San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks face each other Monday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio in a battle between two teams moving in opposite directions on the NBA superhighway.
San Antonio (10-3) has won five straight games after an uncharacteristic three-game losing streak at home. The Spurs head back to the Alamo City after beating Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers on the road last week and after will be fresh for Monday's contest after a weekend of rest.
On Friday against the Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard scored 23 points each to lead seven players in double figures in a 116-107 victory as San Antonio remained undefeated on the road (7-0).
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“Tonight we got 30 assists, which is a good number for us,” Spurs center/forward Pau Gasol said. “We want to continue to do that because we have so many talented and great players that when we move the ball we're hard to stop.”
San Antonio shot .564 from the field and .947 from the charity stripe against the Lakers and set a season high for points in a quarter with 39 in the third.
“We are concentrating on moving the ball better and it's been improving with each game,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
The win was No. 1,099 for Popovich, which broke a tie for seventh on the NBA's career wins list with former Spurs coach Larry Brown.
Through its first 13 games, San Antonio leads the league in free-throw percentage and is second in 3-point shooting percentage. The Spurs have now won at least 10 of their first 13 games in 11 of the past 20 seasons. San Antonio is leading the Southwest Division and is third in the Western Conference.
Conversely, Dallas (2-10) has lost five straight outings, including Saturday night's 97-87 defeat at Orlando in which the Mavericks were outscored 31-18 in the final quarter.
Guard Jonathan Gibson, who was signed by injury-depleted Dallas on Nov. 17, appeared in his second career NBA game and scored a game-high 26 points for the Mavericks to go along with six rebounds, three assists and two steals in 32 minutes. Gibson became the first undrafted player to score at least 26 points in his first or second career NBA game since Lloyd Daniels of the Spurs scored 26 at Denver on Nov. 7, 1992 (in his second NBA game).
Seth Curry (13), Wesley Matthews (13) and Harrison Barnes (11) also scored in double figures for Dallas in the loss to the Magic.
The Mavericks continue to battle on without four key players: Forward Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain) and guards Jose Juan Barea (left calf strain) and Deron Williams (left calf strain) are not with the team and guard Devin Harris (right great toe sprain) is out for Monday's game.
“I'm not gonna put lipstick on a pig here — we've got some things we have to deal with,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We have to play very efficiently, very tough, very together right now.
“I've been through tough stretches with multiple key personnel out before, and it's very difficult. But it's very important for me to stay positive and keep coaching these guys and keep talking about ways to put us in position to win. We gotta do the right things and find a way to get it done. There's nothing easy about this.”
Barnes is averaging a career-high (team-high) 21.3 points per game this season. He's led Dallas in scoring in eight of the team's first 12 games.
“We just have to keep the fight going,” Barnes said. “You can't feel sorry for yourself. You can't get down. The schedule doesn't get any easier. We just have to bring the same fight make or miss and just keep the energy up.”
The Mavericks are last in the NBA in defensive 3-point percentage while the Spurs are second in the league in shooting from beyond the arc, showing San Antonio is not a good matchup for Dallas at this stage in the season.
The Spurs have won five straight and 19 of the last 23 regular-season meetings with Dallas, including all four contests between the teams last season. San Antonio has won 11 in a row at AT&T Center against the Mavericks.