Spurs a problem even without Tony Parker

DALLAS – The Dallas Mavericks have caught a break, as All-Star point guard Tony Parker is staying in San Antonio to nurse a sprained back (the Mavericks host the Spurs on Thursday night).

But that certainly doesn’t mean the Mavs can breathe easily, however.

“They’re not as good, obviously, because he’s a great player, but they still win a ton of games when he misses,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The thing you can’t do is look at the guys who step in for him and say these guys aren’t capable, because they’ve proved time and time again that they are. Both [Patty] Mills and [Cory] Joseph play extremely hard and play to their strengths extremely well. It’s a hard game regardless.”

That’s not just empty coachspeak. This season, the Spurs are 10-3 when Parker sits, matching their league-best winning percentage for the season. Some of those games were planned rest against inferior competition, but the Spurs clearly aren’t pushovers without Parker.

“San Antonio is more about a team than who’s missing or who’s not playing that night, so it doesn’t matter,” Mavs point guard Jose Calderon said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Mills or Cory Joseph or [Manu] Ginobili or whoever’s got to play at the 1. It’s more about the whole team. That’s what they’ve been doing for the whole season, the last I don’t know how many seasons.

“We’ve all got to be ready. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

Joseph typically starts when Parker sits, but Mills tends to cause more problems for opposing defenses. It’s been a breakout season for Mills, a five-year veteran who averages 10.0 points on 47 percent shooting off the San Antonio bench, including 16.5 points on 46.6 percent shooting when the Spurs went 5-1 during Parker’s midseason rest for a variety of maladies.

“He’s always been a very, very good shooter, but it just looks like this year his conditioning is at a higher level,” Carlisle said. “He’s just been making shots. He’s a great outside shooter, and he picks up full court and causes problems that way. He brings a relentless energy to the game that you’ve got to deal with.”

Injury report: Spurs sixth man Manu Ginobili (calf) will play, according to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. ... Mavs forward Shawn Marion (foot) and guard Monta Ellis (tailbone) underwent treatment Wednesday and will start.