It seemed the biggest shot of the night came not on a drive to the basket by the Spurs' Tony Parker, because that's what he was doing most of the night against the Mavericks on Friday. It was Parker's 3-point basket off the glass that silenced the Mavs' fans at American Airlines Center.
The final regular-season meeting between the two I-35 rivals went to the Spurs 97-91, thanks to Parker's 33 points. The Spurs put forth a strong performance as their three big stars -- Tim Duncan (22 points), Manu Ginobili (25 points) and Parker -- dominated.
For Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki finished with 23 and Jason Terry added 19.
What it means: A Mavericks victory would have clinched a playoff berth. The loss instead kept them from the top two seeds in the Western Conference as they enter the late stages of the season. The Mavericks now have lost three of four games, with all those losses coming against playoff teams -- the Los Angeles Lakers, the Portland Trail Blazers and now the Spurs.
Shawn Marion is hurt: Forward Shawn Marion suffered a right wrist injury at some point in the first half, in which he scored 13 points in 14 minutes. Marion has been one of the Mavs' best players during this recent stretch. He's scored 14, 18, 25 and 22 points the past four games. He had 14 in a comeback victory over Golden State on Wednesday. The Mavericks just got Brendan Haywood back into the lineup after he missed the previous two games with a stiff back, but Peja Stojakovic has been out the past six games with a stiff neck. The uncertainty of Marion's status leaves issues for the frontcourt rotation. The Mavs could go with Ian Mahinmi, who came in when Tyson Chandler picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter. They also have Brian Cardinal, but it seemed Friday that coach Rick Carlisle wasn't trying to give him extended minutes.
Foul problems hurt Chandler: Tyson Chandler struggled with fouls all night. He picked up his fourth foul with 9:39 left in the third quarter and was forced to sit down after getting No. 5 in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Without Chandler, the Mavs played with a smaller lineup, using Jason Kidd, J.J. Barea and Jason Terry in the backcourt. Chandler fouled out with 3:17 to play when he hacked Manu Ginobili on a layup.
Tony Parker's drives hurt Dallas: It was interesting to hear Mark Cuban before the game talk about Roddy Beaubois' defense. During this last stretch of games, the Mavs need the young guard to defend, and he had problems doing that -- as did Kidd -- when it came to Parker. It seemed Parker drove right past the guards and to the basket at will. He did pick up his third foul midway through the fourth quarter, putting the Spurs in the bonus. But after Jason Terry made his free throws, Parker scored on a drive to the basket to push the Spurs' lead to 78-73. There were so many big shots by Parker, but that 3-pointer in the fourth seemed to be the dagger. A 13-2 run by the Spurs, highlighted by Tim Duncan's short jumper off a feed from Parker on his drive to the basket, pushed the lead to 91-77.
What's next:The Mavericks continue their three-game homestand with a rematch against Golden State on Sunday.