Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spurs get the best of Mavs sans Dirk

This one hurts in more ways than one. The Mavericks not only lost their third in a row to San Antonio and overall, but Dirk Nowitzki went down with a lower leg injury in the third quarter and didn’t return.

San Antonio rallied from 12 points down to prevail 88-81 before an Easter Sunday sellout crowd of 20,411 at American Airlines Center. Nowitzki’s status is uncertain and the reigning MVP will be re-evaluated Monday.

Nowitzki’s health is just another concern thrown on top of the pile for the Mavs, who dropped to 44-26 and 0-3 on the current four-game homestand. Dallas returned home after five straight wins only to fall to the Lakers, Celtics and Spurs in succession.

“We’ve got to find a way to win some games,” said Jerry Stackhouse, the team’s leading scorer with 19. “We played three good teams and we were doing some good things during the course of the games. We just haven’t been able to close it out.

“Obviously it was a blow losing Dirk there for the fourth quarter, but I thought we still competed and had some opportunities that just didn’t go our way. We had a pretty good handle on the game there for a while and then all of a sudden, they make a couple shots here, a couple shots there and got back in the game and a couple loose balls.”

Before Nowitzki went down, the Mavs seemed in position to snap the skid. Buoyed by their defense, Dallas’ lead reached a dozen on a couple of occasions – the last at 54-42 midway through the third period. As the Spurs turned up their defensive intensity, the Mavs got away from attacking the basket.

“Don’t settle for jump shots,” Josh Howard said. “Coach has been preaching that all year. We need to stay aggressive. I think those two things are the main focus right now.”

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