What the Dallas Mavericks experienced Sunday at the AT&T Center is something they rarely saw this season.
Total domination by one team against them.
Determined to show why they pieced together the NBA’s best record this season, the San Antonio Spurs took the Mavericks apart before running away with a 119-96 victory in Game 7 of the best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
The Spurs ended the Mavericks’ season and won the series 4-3.
They will play Portland in the Western Conference semifinals in a series that starts Tuesday in San Antonio.
When the Spurs weren’t darting inside for easy layups, they made 3-pointers until their lead swelled to as much as 31 points.
The Mavericks never got closer than 14 points in the second half.
“Today we got hit by a tidal wave early,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “They had their best game today and we weren’t able to do quite enough to stay in it.
“They’re the best of the best and they’ve been great for a long time, and we respect the heck out of San Antonio.”
The game was filled with enough technical fouls, flagrant fouls and trash-talking to make any NFL coach proud.
But the Spurs were the more forceful unit, the overwhelming aggressors, and the squad that played with more sense of urgency.
“They were phenomenal today,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who led the Mavericks with 22 points and nine rebounds. “They kept piling on.
“We really didn’t weather the storm.”
Things got so bad for the Mavericks that something happened to Carlisle that’s never happened before during his coaching tenure.
In an attempt to stem the tide of the free-flowing Spurs’ offense, Carlisle said: “We had [only the NBA mandatory] two timeouts remaining in the game at halftime, which had never happened to me.”
It was a brutal day for the Mavericks, who shot just 40.9 percent from the field and had 14 turnovers that turned into 26 points by the opportunistic Spurs.
There was no place for the Mavericks to run or hide, as the Spurs kept the heat on the entire game.
“They were the better team [today],” said Monta Ellis, who went to the bench with two fouls less than eight minutes into the game and finished with just 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting. “Hats off to them.
“They were the better team.”
With point guard Tony Parker zipping around the court for six early points, the Spurs blazed to a 24-12 lead with 4:01 remaining in the first quarter.
As power forward Tim Duncan started clicking, and guard Manu Ginobili got in a groove, the Spurs overwhelmed the Mavericks.
It was such a rout that by halftime Parker, Ginobili and Duncan had combined for 47 points on 18 of 23 shots. Meanwhile, the Mavericks had just 46 points on 18 of 42 field goals.
“It was the force that they hit us with,” Carlisle said. “I thought it was as much offensive force as it was defensive.
“They were good on defense, too.”
Trailing 68-46 at the half and in vital need of points, the Mavericks started Vince Carter and Devin Harris in the second half instead of Shawn Marion and Samuel Dalembert.
The new look momentarily helped the Mavericks get within 77-63 midway through the third period.
But the Spurs answered that brisk rally by the Mavericks with one of their own, using a spirited 14-2 run to jack the score to 91-65 late in the third quarter.
After Parker, who scored a game-high 32 points, sank a pair of free throws, the Spurs were comfortably ahead 111-80 with 5:48 remaining in the game.
But the Spurs likely could have started preparing for the Trail Blazers at intermission. That’s how out-of-hand the game had gotten.
“To come out the way that we did and get knocked back on our heels like that, with a team as experienced as the Spurs, we have to come out swinging,” said Harris, who scored 17 points. “I felt like we just didn’t do that.”
The game was not without its physical play and numerous chirps at the officials.
Carlisle and Parker received technical fouls during the first quarter in separate incidents, and DeJuan Blair and Jae Crowder were charged with flagrant penalty-1 fouls for their overly aggressive play.
San Antonio shot a healthy 56.8 percent from the field, and also converted 10 of its 24 attempts form 3-point range.
The Spurs had the Mavericks on a swivel the entire game in handing them their second-worst loss of the season.
The Mavericks lost by 25 at Charlotte on Feb. 11.
“We fought hard the whole series,” said Blair, who finished with eight points and five rebounds. “It was their time today for sure.”
Stalled on road
The Mavericks were forced to try to overcome slow starts in San Antonio the entire series, which eventually proved to be a big difference:
|G1||12 (21-9)||L, 90-85|
|G2||7 (13-6)||W, 113-92|
|G5||13 (24-11)||L, 109-103|
|G7||14 (30-16)||L, 119-96|
*Largest first-quarter deficit