Wes’ Matthews desperation heave at the horn thudded harmlessly off the backboard as the Spurs closed the game on a 13-0 run to top the Mavericks 98-96.
The Mavericks were cruising to an impressive victory until the wheels fell off the wagon in spectacular fashion. Dallas was held scoreless over the last 4:11 as the team’s dreadful fourth quarter struggles continue.
With the defeat, the Mavericks add to the loss column of a league-worst 1-15 record in clutch games this season (defined as games within five points during the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime). San Antonio, on the other hand, leads the league with a 78.6% win percentage in clutch games (11-3).
For the majority of the game, the Mavs held the Spurs at bay. Starting at PG in place of the injured Dennis Smith Jr., Yogi Ferrell stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. In addition, the Wurzburg connection of Nowitzki and Kleber gave the Spurs all they could handle.
Maxi finished the night with a career high 21 points on 9-10 shooting from the field. In the fourth, he did his best Salah Mejri impersonation with three monster blocks, all while chirping at 5 time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. The impressive rookie even channeled his inner Nowitzki by hitting a huge three that extended the lead to 96-85 with a little over four minutes remaining.
Unfortunately, those were the last points of the game for the Mavericks. Completely faltering down the stretch, the Mavs missed their last seven shots and committed three costly turnovers (after coughing it up just six times in the first 44 minutes).
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On the other side of the token, the Spurs were poised and ready to capitalize. Even without Kawhi Leonard, the savvy group generated quality shots in the waning minutes. After tying the game and forcing an inbound violation, Ginobili isolated at the top of the key. A lefty drive and finish seemed inevitable. Sure enough, it was.
For the tank watchers, the Mavericks are now owners of the second worst record in the league at 8-22. Despite improved play on both sides of the ball, Dallas has lost five of its last six, primarily due to poor execution in the fourth. The team will need to sort out its crunch time issues to have any shot at rising up the standings.
The Mavs will have a day to move past this gut-wrenching loss before hosting the Suns on the 18th. Tip-off is at 7:30 CT.