“They kicked our ass,” Matthews said after the Mavs’ 116-90 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs, in which Dallas broke the franchise record for largest halftime deficit (36). “We played terrible. It was probably the most embarrassing game I’ve been a part of on any level.”
There wasn’t much disagreement in the Mavs’ locker room. Well, except for backup center JaVale McGee, who requested that a reporter say something positive.
Well, we’re positive that the Mavs want no part of the Spurs in the playoffs.
Dallas has lost 13 of its past 15 meetings in the formerly fierce Interstate 35 rivalry. The Dallas roster has been remodeled repeatedly during that span, but the Mavs certainly haven’t had any success against San Antonio in 2015-16.
The Spurs (42-8) have won all three games against the Mavs (28-25) this season. The past two have been blowouts: a 29-point spanking in San Antonio on Jan. 17 and Friday night’s 26-point flogging.
“They’re definitely a good team, but I don’t feel like they’re 40 points better than us,” Dallas point guard Deron Williams said. “We’ve got to put together a better effort.”
Added small forward Chandler Parsons: “Them and Golden State, there’s a reason their record is so good, but there’s no reason any team should ever beat us by that much.”
It should be noted that the Mavs somehow managed to push the eventual-champion Spurs to seven games in the first round of the 2014 playoffs despite getting swept in the regular-season series. That was evidence of coach Rick Carlisle’s coaching brilliance, but it would take quite an imagination to envision Dallas making a series tough against these Spurs.
The Mavs haven’t fared well against any of the league’s division leaders. Dallas is 1-12 against those six squads, with the lone victory coming against the Golden State Warriors in a game that Stephen Curry sat out.
So it’s pretty important for the Mavs to claim the fifth seed, making Saturday night’s game in Memphis as close to a must-win as they come in early February. Dallas trails the fifth-place Grizzlies by 3½ games in the Western Conference standings.
“We had a bad night, but we are going to have to flush it and get ready for tomorrow,” said Carlisle, who blamed himself for not having his team ready to play. “That’s about all I can tell you.”
And the seventh-place Houston Rockets are breathing down the Mavs’ necks, making another Dallas-San Antonio playoff series a distinct possibility. Houston is only a half-game behind Dallas, and the teams seem to be headed in opposite directions.
The Mavs are 9-12 since the calendar flipped to 2016. The Rockets are 11-7 in that span.
A sense of urgency is certainly in order for the Mavs, for whom the All-Star break can’t arrive soon enough.
“We can’t wait for a light to just turn on for us,” Matthews said. “We’re not that kind of team. We don’t have that luxury. We have to turn that light on for ourselves, and we can’t wait anymore. We can’t wait anymore.”