This must be looking like a bad rerun to the Dallas Mavericks.
For the eighth straight time, the Mavs went up against San Antonio, and for the eighth straight time the Spurs proved they were the better team.
Tony Parker, fresh off a six-game layoff to rest his aching body, returned just in time to add more misery to the Mavs and pace the Spurs to a 112-106 victory at the AT&T Center.
The loss was the second in a row for the Mavs (36-25) after they had won 10 of 12 games.
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But even on a night when the Mavs committed just seven turnovers and shot the same shooting percentage as the Spurs, they couldn’t come with any key defensive stops when the game was still up for grabs.
“This effort is good enough to beat a lot of teams, but not them with the way they played tonight,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’ve got to look at our team and look at where we are and where we’re trying to get to.
“I’m disappointed by the results, but not the effort. I thought the effort was good. We’ve got one more shot at these guys at our place [on April 10] and we’ll be ready for that.”
The Mavs hope they’re still in the playoff race then. The Mavs are tied with Memphis (33-25) in the loss column for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The way the Mavs stayed within striking distance of the Spurs, they appeared to be ready to fight fire with fire Sunday.
Despite not being able to chase the Spurs off the 3-point line for 48 minutes, the Mavs were only trailing 104-99 with 1:19 left following a driving layup by Monta Ellis, who had 17 points and eight assists.
But on the next possession, Boris Diaw misfired on a 3-pointer, opening the door for the Mavs. However, the Mavericks failed to box out and Diaw rebounded, and passed to Parker, who knifed through for a layup and a 106-99 lead with 45.8 seconds to go.
“At that point you have to get a stop ... that was kind of deflating right there,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 22 points and seven rebounds. “But I don’t even know if we get the ball if we still have a shot to win it because they are so good down the stretch.
“But that definitely was a big tip we should have somehow come up with it.”
The Mavs trailed only 48-47 at intermission, but a 30-point push by the Spurs gave them a 78-70 lead entering the fourth quarter.
However, whenever it seemed as though the Mavs were inching closer and closer to their I-35 rivals in the fourth quarter, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli or Diaw would squash the visitors’ dreams with a 3-point field goal.
“They made a few more plays than we did, that’s what it came down to,” Carlisle said. “It was just one of those kinds of games.
“Our shot-making wasn’t where it needed to be. We had a good turnover game, we got beat by a few on the boards; it just came down to making plays.”
The Mavs made 45 field goals to just 39 for the Spurs.
Carlisle, though, was unhappy that the Spurs went to the free-throw line 28 times to just 14 for the Mavs.
“We didn’t get the ball in the basket enough and we were unlucky on a few calls that I thought could have gone our way, and it’s a disappointing loss,” Carlisle said. “It came down to a few shots and a few calls and a few plays, and it’s hard.
“It’s hard because our guys really were going at it hard. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”