Spurs set for tussle versus rival Mavs

9:50 AM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - Just one game after taking down arguably the top offensive team in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs put up a clunker the following night.

San Antonio will try to regroup Thursday, when the Southwest Division-rival Dallas Mavericks pay a visit to the AT&T Center.

The Spurs handed the Oklahoma City Thunder a 105-93 setback Monday night in the Alamo City, then dropped a 107-83 road decision to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves the next day. The Spurs had a 28-24 advantage after the first quarter and lost the next three periods, including a 29-10 margin in the second stanza.

Seventeen turnovers led to 30 Minnesota points, while Spurs point guard Cory Joseph paced the team with 15 points. Stephen Jackson and Danny Green finished with 14 and 10 points, respectively, for San Antonio, which has lost two of three games since a three-game winning streak.

Minnesota shot 53.7 percent and made 12-of-20 3-pointers. The Spurs only made 35.4 percent of their shots and sank just 9-of-29 from downtown.

"Minnesota was more aggressive than we were for more of the 48 minutes. They were physical," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They obviously shot it very well. Both defensively and offensively they had a very good game and kicked our butt."

San Antonio will play four in a row at home and is 26-4 as the host. It will also entertain Cleveland, Golden State and Utah on the residency. The Spurs didn't have Tim Duncan or Kawhi Leonard on the trip to Minnesota due to sore knees. Duncan and Leonard are probable Thursday. The Spurs, of course, are dealing without Tony Parker because of a knee injury.

The Spurs, seeded first in the Western Conference, are a win shy of 50 for a 14th consecutive season.

Dallas enters this matchup on a roll, having won a season high-tying four straight and five of six games, and will close out a four-game road trip Thursday.

The Mavericks recorded a 115-108 victory at Milwaukee on Tuesday as Vince Carter scored 23 points off the bench and Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jae Crowder and O.J. Mayo scored 14 points apiece for the Mavericks, who shot 50 percent for the game and are averaging 107.3 ppg in the last four games. Dallas is 14-2 when shooting 50 percent or better in 2012-13.

"I just felt in the groove," said Carter, who had 13 points during the decisive fourth quarter. "The basket just seemed extremely big and I felt comfortable in my shot. I was just in the flow of the game, and a couple of shots, once I let them go I happened to look down and see the 3-point line was up there."

Carter sank some big shots to stop Milwaukee's momentum and kept the Mavs' hopes for a playoff push intact. The Mavs are 2 1/2 games off the eighth and final postseason spot in the West.

After visiting the rival Spurs, Dallas, which is 13-21 as the guest, will play two straight and eight of the next nine games at home. In injury news for Dallas, guard Darren Collison (blurred vision) is questionable Thursday and veteran forward Shawn Marion (calf) is expected to miss the game. Marion has missed three straight games.

The Mavericks have lost the first three meetings with the Spurs this season, four straight overall and eight of the previous 10 matchups between the division foes. Dallas has lost four straight and 12 of its last 18 at San Antonio, which hasn't swept a season series with Dallas since winning all four encounters back in 1997-98.

Carter is averaging 14.3 ppg against the Mavs this season and needs seven field goals for 8,000 in his career. Duncan is averaging 16.5 ppg in two meetings with Dallas this season and has faced the Mavs 54 times in his career, posting averages of 21.1 points and 11.2 boards.

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