How it happened: The Spurs dominated the third quarter and improved their record to 51-1 in games they lead entering the fourth this season.
San Antonio’s inside-outside, one-two punch of Tim Duncan and Patty Mills was primarily responsible for the Spurs outscoring the Mavs by a 34-21 margin in the third, turning a two-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead. With 11 points apiece, Duncan and Mills outscored the Mavs by themselves in the quarter.
Mills, who filled in for All-Star point guard Tony Parker (back) in the starting lineup, led the Spurs with 26 points and was 6-of-11 from 3-point range. San Antonio scorched the Mavs from long range, hitting 16 of 34 3-point attempts.
Duncan dominated inside despite hyperextending his right knee in the first quarter, a scare that sidelined him only briefly after he limped off the floor to the locker room for further observation. The four-time NBA champion finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard had a spectacular all-around performance, scoring 16 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and dishing out five assists.
Monta Ellis (24 points) and Dirk Nowitzki (19 points) put up nice numbers, but only two other Mavs scored in double figures. While the Spurs lit it up from long distance, the Mavs were only 5-of-12 from 3-point range.
The Mavs went on an 8-0 run late in the fourth quarter, but that was too little, too late. Leonard ended the run with a dagger 3.
What it means: It's the Mavs' ninth straight loss to the Spurs, and this drops them back in eighth place in the Western Conference. The Phoenix Suns (47-31) are percentage points ahead of the 48-32 Mavs, who have lost five of their past eight games at the American Airlines Center. The Memphis Grizzlies are a game behind the Suns and Mavs. Those three teams all face each other in a five-day span, starting with Suns at Mavs on Saturday night. The Spurs, who have the league’s best record at 61-18, padded their lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of the West standings to 3½ games with three games remaining on San Antonio’s schedule.
Play of the game: Leonard scooped up a loose ball and went coast to coast for a one-handed slam over Nowitzki with 10:31 to go in the third quarter. Leonard showed incredible acceleration for a 6-foot-7, 230-pound small forward. Nowitzki never got off the floor to challenge Leonard at the rim, but it would have almost certainly been a futile attempt anyway. The dunk capped a 6-0 run to start the second half, giving the Spurs a 6-0 lead.
Stat of the night: The Spurs are the 13th team in NBA history to win at least 30 road games in a season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Seven of the previous 12 won championships that season.