Through all the pageantry of Tuesday’s championship ring ceremony, when it came to playing the Dallas Mavericks again, the world champion San Antonio Spurs just picked up where they left off the last time these two rivals met.
The Mavs ended the 2013-14 season with a loss to the Spurs in Game 7 of a dramatic first-round playoff series. And they started a new season Tuesday night with a dramatic 101-100 loss to the Spurs before 19,615 at the AT&T Center.
It was not the type of start the Mavs envisioned, and especially not what newcomer Chandler Parsons anticipated in his first game with Dallas. Struggling with his shot all night, Parsons had an opportunity to be the hero but missed a potential game-winning 3-point attempt with one second left.
“[The last shot] felt great,” said Parsons, who signed a three-year, $46 million contract with the Mavs in July. “It was kind of a broken play where I got a good look.
“I’ll take that shot any day at the end of the game, and I just have to step up and knock it down next time.”
The Mavs used a pulsating 19-7 run to rally from a 91-81 deficit midway through the fourth quarter to assume a 100-98 lead after Dirk Nowitzki drilled a jumper from the right corner with 1:28 to go.
But on the ensuing trip up the court, Nowitzki said he tried to play some help defense and failed to rotate to Tony Parker, who buried the game-winning 3-pointer with 1:07 left.
“I love a lot of things about the way we played, and it was a great basketball game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “You can’t kick off the season with a better game than this for the fans.
“Unfortunately, the slim margins of winning and losing are all that anybody remembers. We get one more stop or one more basket and we’re all in here singing a different tune.”
The Mavs also would have been singing a different tune had they gotten more from Parsons, who finished with just five points on 2-of-10 shooting.
“It was just one of those games,” Parsons said. “It [stinks] to play like that on the first game, but it is only one of 82.
“It was going to take some time to get use to playing with everybody, but it was just one of those nights where I could not get anything to fall. I have to be better.”
Nowitzki said the Mavs also have to be better than they were in the third quarter. Dallas led 53-47 at halftime but was carved up by the Spurs for 31 points in a chaotic third quarter in which Tyson Chandler and Nowitzki each were whistled for technical fouls in a 42-second span.
“I thought the third quarter was a killer overall,” said Nowitzki, who finished with 18 points and six rebounds. “I thought we lost our composure a little bit.
“We let the refereeing get to us a little instead of still working through it.”
Chandler’s fourth foul and technical foul occurred in the midst of the Spurs chopping away at the Mavs’ 57-48 cushion.
“I think it definitely changed the momentum,” Chandler said. “They started going inside.
“It’s two teams that respect one another and are trying to set the tone for the season. It’s our first game with a young unit just coming together.”
Monta Ellis (26 points, six assists) carried the Mavs offensively for the most part, and Devin Harris came off the bench to add 17 points. But in those moments when the Mavs needed a bucket, they couldn’t find the basket.
Meanwhile, the Spurs made 14 of 28 shots from 3-point range and shot 52.9 percent from the field.
“I like the way we battled back,” Nowitzki said. “We were still down eight or nine there in the fourth and we kept battling and we had a shot to win.
“We’ve got a long way to go. It’s obvious we’re not going to be perfect in Game 1 of 82.”