Spurs give the ball away first, then Game 2 to Dallas

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This time there would be no Spurs comeback.

In Game 1 of this series Dallas had a double-digit fourth quarter lead but surrendered it and lost. In Game 2 San Antonio had been shooting itself in the foot all night and Dallas had taken advantage and led by 11 entering the fourth quarter. But it didn’t feel safe.

Then the Mavericks opened the fourth quarter on an 11-1 run and the game became a rout, with Dallas eventually winning 113-92.

That evens the series at 1-1 as it heads back to Dallas for Game 3. This was the first win for the Mavs against the Spurs in their last 11 tries but it gives Dallas hope heading home.

Hope because for seven of the eight quarters in this series, Dallas has been the better team.

On Wednesday night mostly the Mavs won because the Spurs beat themselves.

San Antonio turned the ball over on 26.2 percent of their possessions — 15 turnovers in the first half and 22 for the game (that 15 was more than San Antonio had in half its games total this season). Dallas converted those turnovers into 33 points. If you’re a Dallas fan you can try to spin this as your team playing good defense — and Dallas has been better this series than they were during the season — but this Spurs team was just sloppy with the ball. It was very unSpurs-like.

When they didn’t cough it up the Spurs shot well — 57.6 percent for the first half and 50 percent for the game. Manu Ginobili finished with 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting, he was 5-of-6 from three and was a real spark when the Spurs went on a 10-0 run to close out the first half and make it close.

You just can’t add 22 extra empty possessions to any shooting percentage and do well.

We need to give the Mavericks some credit here, they were making plays — DeJuan Blair at one point stripped Ginobili, led the fast break, got into the lane, did a ball fake, spun 360 and hit a lay-up. It was that kind of the night for the Mavs.

Monta Ellis had 21 points (on 20 shots, though), Devin Harris had 18 on 7-of-9 shooting, and Shawn Marion had 20 points on 10 shots. Dirk Nowitzki was off his game, missing his first six shots and finishing with 16 points on 19 shots, but he hit a couple key ones late.

That Dallas won on an off night from their best player is a great sign.

That they beat the Spurs on the road and did it by beating the Spurs at their own game — smart execution, forcing mistakes then taking advantage of them — is another great sign.

This is a series, one where Dallas has been the better team for most of it. This is not a cake walk for the Spurs, this one may go a while now.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.