DALLAS – A manpower shortage at point guard Wednesday night at American Airlines Center wound up being pivotal in the Dallas Mavericks’ 94-87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
The Mavs were without point guard J. J. Barea (calf), and starting point guard Deron Williams was limited to just 26 minutes as he continues to try and work himself back into game condition after sitting out with a strained calf. Also, guard Devin Harris played his first game of the season and was limited to 11 minutes as he battles back from a strained great right toe.
That left point guard duties to Seth Curry – he’s really a shooting guard trying to play point guard -- and rookie Jonathan Gibson to run the offense. Unfortunately for the Mavs, Gibson was pressed into action for the first time Wednesday with 4:23 left in the game after Curry sustained a right knee injury.
"I got to get it looked at,’’ Curry said. "It’s a little stiff right now.’’
Curry said he has no history with knee problems.
"I hope I get out there quick,’’ he said."We'll see what happens.
‘I’m a little worried. Obviously when you hear a pop -- I mean it's not good. I’ll get treatment, get it looked at and get out there as soon as possible.’’
Curry finished with 14 point in 28 minutes, Williams collected nine points, eight rebounds and five assists, Harris went scoreless while missing his three field goal attempts, and Gibson had three points during his brief appearance.
"Seth got banged up at the end – I’m not sure what happened,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "Gibson was put in a very difficult situation, but there was no other choice.
"Just a tough way to end that game. We played so well for the majority of it.’’
The Mavs have lost nine of their last 10 games and are 3-14 overall going into Thursday night’s game in Charlotte. On Wednesday, they played some of their best defense for most of the third quarter when they bolted out of the halftime locker room with a 20-4 run to assume a 60-47 lead.
"We're competing and doing the things to win the game,’’ Curry said. "We had leads, trying to close down the stretch and get over the hump, trying to find the way to make plays at the end to win.
"Obviously I'm disappointed with some of these losses, especially tonight. But I feel like I'm encouraged, we're doing a lot of good things to win and we're competing and giving ourselves a chance.’’
Wesley Matthews led the Mavs with 26 points. Matthews made 8-of-19 shots, including 5-of-11 baskets from 3-point range.
But he’s being stretched to the limits since he normally has to chase down the opponents’ best perimeter player. In the Spurs’ case, it was Kawhi Leonard, who tallied 21 points on 5-of-16 shots.
Carlisle said: "Unfortunately were putting too big of an offensive load on (Matthews), which makes it tough because he has a big responsibility because he’s guarding a good player at the other end.’’
As the losses pile up, the Mavs can cling to a six-point loss in San Antonio last week, and Wednesday’s seven-point loss. They let’s them know that despite their plethora of injuries, they’re able to stay competitive.
"I'm proud of this team,’’ Matthews said. "Frustration and loss aside, two games, I truly feel like we had a chance against championship teams.
"The fight we're showing, this is who we were supposed to be.’’
Harris also showed some fight in getting in a game for the first time this season, although he was clearly sluggish.
"I felt pretty good,’’ Harris said. "Still working in game shape just trying to help the guys win.
"We're still fighting. Tonight felt like we should've had this one.’’
The Mavs hope to turn a close loss into a victory real soon.
"The fight is still there,’’ Harris said. "Guys are playing their butts off.
"One of these days our luck’s going to change. If we continue to fight this way we'll win some games.’’