SAN ANTONIO -- How it happened: The Dallas Mavericks didn’t have a chance from the start and for the third time in eight games were blown out by halftime.
This time it was against the rival San Antonio Spurs, who were on the run from the start and buried five of their first six 3-pointers and 11 in the first half for a 33-0 edge beyond the arc that had Dallas dragging a 55-29 deficit to the locker room. The Mavs' shooting percentage was even lower (28.9). Dallas trailed 3-0 and never sniffed the lead.
The Spurs managed this dismantling with leading scorer Manu Ginobili sidelined after undergoing hand surgery Wednesday to repair a broken bone in his hand.
Making matters worse, the Mavs played the final three quarters without floor general Jason Kidd, who left after the first quarter with a lower back injury. His status is uncertain at the moment, but updates will follow after the game.
For this to happen now, after two wins fueled optimism -- at least among the players, if not coach Rick Carlisle -- is an unsettling proposition and was completely unexpected.
Carlisle’s motto in this shortened season is "No excuses," but this was the Mavs’ fourth game in five nights and sixth in eight nights. But then you look at the Spurs’ schedule and, well, it was their fifth game in eight nights. Both teams played and won Wednesday night. Both teams ultimately played without a key starter, but when the Mavs had theirs on the floor they were outscored 31-17.
No Mavs player scored in double-figures until Jason Terry finally dropped a 3-pointer to give Dallas 40 points with 2:55 left in the third quarter.
Dirk Nowitzki was 1-of-7 in the first half and finished the game 3-of-11 with six points. That's right, six points. He didn't play at all in the fourth quarter and tried to encourage the troops the best he could with his sweat gear on. Dallas' starters combined for 22 points. It wasn't until a garbage-time fourth quarter that the Mavs barely elevated their shooting percentage above 30.
Amazingly, if Dallas had been able to find any kind of flow, they might have actually had a chance. The Spurs went to sleep in the second half. They scored 11 points in the third quarter, yet still led by 24.
It's not often that a team can shoot below 40 percent and coast to victory. The Spurs, who did finish 16-of-33 on 3s -- did just that.
Matt Bonner led the Southwest Division-leading Spurs (5-2) with 17 points. Richard Jefferson scored 13 of his 16 in the first half. Gary Neal, who started in Ginobili's spot, scored nine of his 12 points in the first quarter -- all on 3-pointers. Tim Duncan finished with 10 points and Tony Parker had 11 with eight assists.
For the Mavs, Lamar Odom, coming off an encouraging 15-point performance, was 3-of-10 from the floor for six points. Vince Carter had two.
But this game wasn't about any one individual. It was about a team that clearly wasn't ready to play when the ball was tossed up at the AT&T Center.
It was 19-4 early on when there was plenty of time to get things together. It just never happened.
And now Carlisle and the players have to figure out why.
What it means: Dallas drops to 3-5 after gaining a measure of optimism and momentum after consecutive wins for the first time this season. To lose like this to a division rival playing without its leading scorer is especially demoralizing as the Mavs fall to 0-1 in the division with another division game coming up Saturday night at home against the New Orleans Hornets.
Play of the game: At the 3:33 mark of the first quarter, Odom’s bad pass was picked by Jefferson, who got it to Parker, who swooped in for the layup and drew a foul on Kidd. Parker converted the 3-point play and with 3:30 to go, the Spurs led 29-11 and that was that.
Stat of the day: In the first half, the Mavs’ starters went a combined 4-of-17 from the floor and 0-of-1 from the free throw line for eight points. The Spurs’ starters went 14-of-33 from the floor and 3-of-7 from the free throw line for 37 points.