DALLAS — Answering their coach’s public challenge, the Dallas Mavericks thumped the previously surging San Antonio Spurs 101-94 Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
The Mavs (45-27) snapped a two-game skid and ended the Spurs’ three-game winning streak. San Antonio (44-26) lost for just the third time in 13 games.
Dallas’ demoralizing defeat Sunday at Phoenix irked coach Rick Carlisle to the point that he criticized his team for an inability to compete at a high level at all times and urged reporters to ask the players about the “soul” of the team.
The player who took the brunt of the criticism during Dallas’ now 9-8 stretch since the All-Star break was slumping shooting guard Monta Ellis. He broke out of his funk in a big way Tuesday, scoring 13 of his game-high 38 points in a momentum-swinging third quarter. It was the second time this season that Ellis tagged the Spurs for 38.
“I’ve been battling with a lot of injuries all season,” Ellis said. “The last few days, my body has been feeling good, and tonight I’ll sleep real good. I went and worked out last night at least 2 1/2 hours. I wanted to come in tonight and give my team a lift that they have been looking for. Now that my body is feeling good, we’ll try to make a run of it until the playoffs start.”
Ellis made six of nine shots from the floor in the third quarter and Dallas shot 70 percent as a team in the period, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. The Mavs, who trailed by 14 points in the
second quarter, ended the third with a 76-66 lead.
“Too much Monta tonight, don’t you think?” Carlisle said. “I love the way he played. I love the way the whole team played.”
Said Spurs point guard Tony Parker about Ellis’ explosion: “He shot the ball well; he had everything going for him.”
A quick 5-0 spurt by Dallas to start the fourth made it 81-66. Forward Dirk Nowitzki swished a 3-pointer after the Mavs twice maintained possessions with hustling saves along the baseline after missed shots.
Nowitzki finished with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and forward Chandler Parsons had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists while logging 40 minutes. Six Dallas bench players combined for 25 points.
“I think we started out well, and after that, it was the Mr. Ellis show,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We just didn’t contain him.”
The Spurs had an awful night from 3-point range, hitting eight of 28 and shooting just over 42.4 percent overall. Forward Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio with 19 points and nine rebounds, and guard Danny Green had 17 points and made half of the Spurs’ 3-pointers.
Parker, who was playing well during the Spurs’ recent surge, was held to eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. He added three assists. Power forward Tim Duncan finished with six points and seven rebounds.
Dallas actually got off to a slow start that had to be worrisome to Carlisle considering the circumstances of the previous game.
San Antonio built a 14-point lead, but in the second quarter, the Spurs were stricken by the turnover bug that plagued the Mavs in the first quarter. Dallas managed to close out the first half on a 19-10 run to go into halftime trailing 46-43.
Dallas’ uneven play over the past month cost the Mavericks in the tight Western Conference standings, landing them in seventh place entering the game. With the victory, the Mavericks and Spurs are tied for sixth.