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DALLAS (AP) – The Spurs left four starters and two key reserves in San Antonio for their meaningless regular-season finale in Dallas.
Turns out the game didn’t matter for the Mavericks either, although it did when they blew an 18-point halftime lead against a bevy of San Antonio backups.
Rookies Boban Marjanovic and Jonathon Simmons set career scoring highs and the Spurs beat the Mavericks 96-91 on Wednesday night, temporarily jeopardizing Dallas’ hold on the sixth seed for the Western Conference playoffs.
Ultimately, the Mavericks did avoid a rematch with the second-seeded Spurs in the first round after San Antonio’s 4-0 sweep of its Texas rival in the regular season.
Dallas will get No. 3 seed Oklahoma City thanks to Memphis’ 125-104 loss to Golden State, and the Spurs will play the Grizzlies. Any chance for the Mavericks to move up to No. 5 fizzled with Portland’s 107-99 victory against Denver.
“All of the teams up there are incredibly good,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who will lead the Mavericks into the postseason for the 15th time in 16 seasons — a stat he delivered to the crowd in a brief pre-game speech on fan appreciation night.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle whoever we face. But we’re going to sure try, battle like we did the last few weeks and see what happens.”
Marjanovic, a 7-foot-3 Serbian center making his fourth start, had 22 points and matched a career high with 12 rebounds as the Spurs got even once in the third quarter and completed the rally in the fourth to finish 67-15, four wins better than the previous franchise record.
Simmons scored 19, and second-year player Kyle Anderson matched his career best with 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Anderson had 10 rebounds for his first career double-double.
Starters LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, and reserves Manu Ginobili and David West were nowhere to be found on the San Antonio bench.
“A lot of fun,” said Danny Green, the only San Antonio starter to play. “We got a chance to get the young guys out there, move the ball a little bit, push the pace, try something different. It’s always fun to win when you’ve got your old guys sitting out.”
It wasn’t much fun for San Antonio early. The Spurs were down 52-34 at halftime after Raymond Felton finished a 16-point first half with a 3-pointer in the final second. Felton led Dallas with 22 points.
But Matt Bonner opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers and the Spurs shot 71 percent in the third quarter, when Marjanovic scored eight points.
San Antonio went ahead for good at 78-77 midway through the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Green, who scored 12 points. He was joined at the opening tip by Bonner, Marjanovic, Kyle Anderson and 40-year-old Andre Miller.
The Mavericks were without guards J.J. Barea (right groin strain) and Devin Harris (sprained left thumb) and lost forward David Lee to a right foot injury in the second quarter.
Dallas is also being careful with point guard Deron Williams in his third game since returning from a left abdominal strain that sidelined him for eight games.
After a blowout loss at Sacramento when Williams was sidelined and Chandler Parsons was already out for the season with a knee injury, the
Mavericks matched a season best with six straight wins.
Then, Dallas bounced back from a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers with a playoff-clinching win over the Jazz on Monday, while also guarantee at least the seventh seed and avoiding the Warriors in the first round.
“We’re the `Masking Tape Mavs,”‘ coach Rick Carlisle said. “Our guys have done it on grits and guts. I just love the way this team has fought for the past couple of weeks.”
The Mavericks were hurt by a rough shooting night for Nowitzki, who missed eight of his first nine shots and finished 5 of 17, including 1 of 7 from 3-point range. He scored 19 points.
Dallas owner Mark Cuban recalled the day he thought he had a deal with the Lakers for Kobe Bryant in 2007, even going so far as to tell stage hands on “Dancing with the Stars” that the deal was done. But somebody changed late Lakers owner Jerry Buss’ mind. “I do remember Dirk coming to me and saying, `Look, if you can trade me for Kobe, you’ve got to do it,”‘ Cuban said. “And I’m like, `Dirk, that’s not going to happen.”‘
All the career nights for the young players made it seem a little different for San Antonio, but veteran Boris Diaw said otherwise. “Obviously, we’ve got great guys and great Hall of Famers and starters, but the support cast has been doing a great job all season,” he said.
Spurs: Marjanovic had his third double-double. … Marjanovic’s previous career high was 19 against Miami on March 23. Simmons had 18 against Milwaukee on Jan. 4. … Anderson’s other 15-point game was Dec. 15, 2014, at Portland.
Mavericks: Nowitzki was 8 of 10 from the line and became the seventh NBA player with 7,000 career free throws. He has 7,006. … Williams had 13 points and seven assists, and Zaza Pachulia had 12 rebounds. … Wes Matthews scored 11, but was just 3 of 11 from 3-point range.
Both teams start the playoffs this weekend.
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