Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs  (December 14)

It was the first game of the season for David Robinson in the Alamodome.
Robinson has been hindered by a bad back and you could tell it was still
bothering him through early in the 2nd quarter.  He left a few minutes
into the 2nd to get treatment on his back and returned late in the 2nd and
his back seemed fine.

The teams traded baskets to start the game and a 3-pointer by George
McCloud game the Mavs a 7-6 lead with 9:45 remaining.  After a 3-pointer
from Jim Jackson Dallas led 12-8 with 8:30 left.  With Dallas up 16-10,
San Antonio took advantage of a couple of Dallas turnovers to score the
next 7 points to go up 17-16 with 5:11 left.  Dallas then went on a 9-2
run concluded by a 3-pointer from McCloud to take a 25-19 lead with 3:28
to go.  Vinny Del Negro hit a 3-pointer, Sean Elliott drove for the slam,
and then the teams traded baskets for the rest of the quarter.  Dallas led
33-30 after 1.  It was a very fast paced quarter with both teams shooting
well.  McCloud had 12 points, Sean Elliott had 8 points, and Robinson had
6 points in the first 4 minutes.

Dallas led 41-38 with 9:09 left in the 2nd quarter as Chris Gatling had 8
points over the last 4 minutes.  The Spurs tied the game at 43-43 after a
3-pointer from Dominique Wilkins and a layup from Monty Williams.  San
Antonio took the lead at 47-45 with 5:30 remaining when Dallas went on a
7-0 run to retake the lead at 52-47 with 3:42 remaining.  The Spurs scored
4 points and Gatling hit a baseliner.  Gatling then took an elbow to the
face from Robinson and _Gatling_ was called for the foul.  Dallas led
57-56 at the half.  Dallas shot 59% (24-43) FG and San Antonio shot 51%
(23-45) FG.  Dallas had 9 turnovers and San Antonio had 3 turnovers.
Gatling had 12 points and 13 rebounds and McCloud had 15 points.  Robinson
had 12 points in 9 minutes and Elliott had 10 points.

Dallas opened the 2nd half by scoring the first 5 points including another
3-pointer from McCloud who had the hot hand.  Dallas led 62-56 with 10:42
left.  The Spurs then went on a 12-6 run behind 10 points from Robinson to
tie the game at 68-68 with 6:03 to go.  They continued their run by
scoring 7 of the next 9 points including 5 from Wilkins to take a 75-70
lead with 4:25 remaining.  The teams traded runs of 5 points and the Spurs
still led by 5 at 80-75 with 2 minutes left.  Oliver Miller scored 4 of
the last 5 points in the quarter to cut the Spurs' lead down to 81-79
after 3.  Robinson had 22 points and 6 rebounds and Elliott had 19 points.
McCloud had 26 points.

Vernon Maxwell drove for the layup for the first points of the quarter.
The Mavs then scored the next 6 points with 4 points from Gatling to take
the lead at 85-83 with 9:32 left.  Robinson hit 1-2 free throws and then
Derek Harper and Jamal Mashburn hit 3-pointers to push the Mavs' lead up
to 91-84 with 8:37 remaining.  The Spurs came back by scoring the next 7
points to tie the game at 91-91 with 6:28 remaining.  The teams traded
baskets and Mashburn hit another 3-pointer to put Dallas up 96-93 with
4:11 to go.  Del Negro hit a long baseliner under pressure and Mashburn
scored his 10th point of the quarter on a jumper with 3:20 to go.  Del
Negro hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 98-98 with 2:45 left.  Miller fed
Jackson for the layup.  Del Negro got credit for another 3-pointer to put
the Spurs up 101-100 with 2:15 remaining.  McCloud hit two free throws at
the 2 minute mark.  Robinson missed, McCloud missed a 3-pointer, and
Robinson missed.  55 seconds left.  Elliott intercepted the pass and took
it all the way of the slam on the break to put the Spurs up 103-102 with
36.4 seconds.  Jackson turned the ball over and Avery Johnson hit 1-2 free
throws with 31.5 seconds.  Jackson drained the open 3 with 21 seconds left
to put Dallas up 105-104.  The Spurs took their last timeout and brought
the ball to mid-court.  They fed Robinson the ball on the post with Miller
on him.  As Jason Kidd approached with the double-team, Robinson spun
around Miller for the easy drop in with 8.5 seconds left.  106-105 San
Antonio.  The Mavs only had a 20 second timeout and had to bring the ball
up full court.  Kidd stumbled at halfcourt and handed the ball to McCloud
who threw up the 3-point prayer with a defender in his face.  The ball
went in and out and the game went to the Spurs.   San Antonio 106, Dallas

There were some questionable non-calls during the final few minutes of the
game, but I believed the non-calls probably evened out over the game.  The
thing I had a major problem with was that both of Del Negro's 3-pointers
with 2:45 and 2:15 remaining were not 3-pointers.  His left foot was on 
the line for both (and not just his toes).  On one of them, I had a clear
shot of both Del Nergo and the ref.  The ref did not even glance at Del
Nergo's feet before raising his arm to indicate it was a 3-point attempt.
That's 2 free points in what was a 1 point game.

Dallas committed 18 turnovers that led to Spurs 21 points while the Spurs
committed 8 turnovers that led to 12 Dallas points.  Bad back and all,
David Robinson was unstoppable and finished with 27 points on 10-13 FG and
7-10 FT and 10 rebounds.  George McCloud finished with 28 points including 
6-10 3-pointers.  The Mavs lost despite shooting over 50% 3-pointers 

To make matters worse, Jamal Mashburn was gripping to the press about the
way he was used in the game.  He felt he did not get enough minutes (22,
but McCloud had the hot hand).  That combined with a rumor in a national
paper that the Mavs have Mash on the trading block had Mashburn
questioning his role with the team.
Mashburn: "I don't know where I fit in; that's my biggest question.  I
think any player wants to know what's going on.  You go through injuries
and stuff.  They ask you to get back.  I get back and don't play.  I'll
still come to practice every day and be a Dallas Maverick.  Normal
business.  If I go somewhere else, that's where I'll be at."  
Coach Cleamons express surprise when asked about the rumor of Mashburn
being on the trading block.

Gregg Popovich: "We need a win badly.  More than food, more than sleep, 
more than anything."

David Robinson: "That was huge for us tonight.  Now we feel like this is
the start of something, at least. After all of the transition stuff, now 
we get a win that we had to fight for."

Robinson: "I'm having fun just being on the floor again.  Sitting out is 
the worst."

Sean Elliott: "We went through peaks and valleys emotionally out there.
If we would have lost, it would have hurt a whole lot.  We still have a 
whole lot of work to do to get back in this."

Avery Johnson: "This was one of those break-through wins.  Anytime you 
get 25 assists and eight turnovers you're supposed to win."

Jim Cleamons: "We probably should have fouled [Robinson at the end] and 
made him earn the two instead of the layup.  That's the breaks of the 
game, right now we're going home with our tails between our legs."

Cleamons: "When you look at [San Antonio], they're averaging something 
like 87 points, and we let them have 106. That's too many points.  But 
it was a fun game for the fans to watch."

Cleamons: "The double-team should've been there [at the end on Robinson].
But he made a quick move and split the middle.  We should've fouled him 
or something instead of giving him a two-foot layup.  We're going home 
with our tail between our legs."

George McCloud: "We had a chance to win the game, as well as I was 
shooting the ball.  Jason was going to the basket and was going to kick 
it out to me, but he lost the ball and we had to try to get it that way."

Oliver Miller on defending Robinson on the final play: "If I didn't 
think help was coming, I'd have played him strong straight up.  We didn't 
want to foul him, and we didn't want the ball in his hands.  Somebody was 
supposed to help me, but, oh well, that's why we have a losing record."

Jason Kidd: "I tried to help, but he spun and was gone.  It happened so 
fast.  But I should've fouled him or something.  I guess it's another
learning experience."

McCloud: "I thought [the last 3-pointer] was good.  We lost, but we gave 
our hottest shooter a clean look to win the game at the buzzer on the 
road.  That's all we can ask for."

Dal-SA boxscore

Patricia Bender
Not affiliated with or representing anyone besides myself.