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Dallas Mavericks slap around San Antonio Spurs, but do it within the rules - Metro US

Dallas Mavericks slap around San Antonio Spurs, but do it within the rules

DALLAS — Erick Dampier never messed with Tony Parker. He didn’t have to.

Instead of delivering his guaranteed hard foul, Dampier and the Dallas
Mavericks slapped around the San Antonio Spurs with tight defence, the
return of Dirk Nowitzki’s shooting touch and the energy of their home
crowd, turning it into an 88-67 victory Thursday night and a 2-1 lead
in their first-round series.

Dampier drew the scrutiny of the league office for saying he would pop Parker on his first drive of this game.

Dampier ended up going the whole game without colliding with Parker —
although he did swat away a shot during a frenzied first-half defensive
performance by the Mavericks.

“This is how we have to play as far as tempo goes,’’ Mavs guard Jason
Terry said. “Defensively, we were there with great energy.’’

San Antonio finished with its fewest points in a playoff game, while it was the fewest Dallas ever allowed in the postseason.

It was so ugly that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich playfully shoved aside
the final stats at the start of his post-game news conference.

“Have some mercy will ya?’’ Popovich said, laughing. “It’s bad enough
I had to watch this. Now you’re going to make me look at the stat
sheet?’’

Dallas allowed only 30 points over the first two quarters.

When the Mavs hit a series of jumpers to start the third quarter,
swelling a 16-point halftime lead to 26, Popovich decided this was a
lost cause.

He pulled Parker, Tim Duncan and the rest of his starters with 7:42
left in the third quarter to save them for Game 4 on Saturday.

“I didn’t see where we were going to get back in that one,’’ Popovich said.

The Mavericks improved to 16-1 at home since the all-star break, and to
7-1 in games following 20-point losses. Now Dallas will have to show it
can handle success.

After winning the opener, the Mavs came out flat in Game 2, getting
trounced about as soundly as they did the trouncing this game.

“The challenge is to maintain same kind of edge heading into
Saturday,’’ Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s a good effort and
an important victory for us, but it’s only one step.’’

Nowitzki had 20 points and seven rebounds, hitting the bench for good
once Dallas’ lead reached 30. Josh Howard had 17 points and eight
rebounds, and Dampier had two points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

J.J. Barea had 13 points and seven assists in his first career playoff
start and Jason Kidd had six assists and eight rebounds. Kidd’s only
points came on a three-pointer that was immediately followed by
Popovich’s give-up move.

“This was an awful game,’’ Duncan said. “Hopefully I’ll come out here (Saturday) and be a leader.’’

Parker was San Antonio’s leading scorer with just 12 points — down from 38 the previous game.

He made only five of 14 shots, with as many turnovers (three) as
assists. Duncan had four points on 2-of-9 shooting, with as many fouls
(two) as rebounds.

“We have to play with a lot more energy,’’ Parker said. “That’s it.’’

Feeding off a crowd of 20,491 that was chanting “Let’s Go Mavs!’’ long
before tipoff, Dallas pestered San Antonio into missing its first five
shots, and turned the first four into quick baskets, sparking fans to
scream even louder.

They really went bonkers when Dampier blocked Parker’s shot and Barea
followed with a three-pointer, putting Dallas up by 12 when the game
was only six minutes old.

The Spurs struggled to find anything that would work.

They often took shots late in the shot clock, and those were rarely good.

They had six passes stolen — some were so off the mark you would’ve
thought they were intentionally thrown to the Mavericks — and had five
shots blocked.

They scored only 30 points the entire half; if not for a buzzer-beater
by George Hill, San Antonio would’ve matched its worst half in a
playoff game.

That was the Spurs’ good half.

San Antonio opened the third quarter by missing four of its first five
shots, while Dallas couldn’t miss. Soon after Duncan threw away about a
three-foot pass to Roger Mason, the Spurs started emptying their bench.

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