Spurs vs Mavericks November 21, 2016

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Leonard scores 24 as Spurs top struggling Mavericks 96-91

SAN ANTONIO — Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle found plenty of positives in his team’s performance against San Antonio. His counterpart, Gregg Popovich, could not stomach the Spurs’ “awful” and “pathetic” play.

Oh, by the way, San Antonio won.

Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and nine rebounds, and the Spurs escaped with a 96-91 victory over the struggling Mavericks on Monday night for their sixth straight win.

Dallas (2-11) is off to its worst start since 1993-1994, when the Mavericks opened 1-23 in a 13-win season. But they put a scare in San Antonio, which had to keep Leonard on the floor for much of the fourth quarter.

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“This was a pathetic performance on the part of the Spurs,” Popovich said in a 30-second postgame interview. “You know, they had some guys out, we had some guys out, but they had a lot more out than we did. I thought we showed a lack of humility, a lack of respect for the opponent, a very pathetic performance at both ends of the court. It was an awful performance. Oh, and they deserved to win the basketball game, I forgot to say that.”

Dallas almost did.

With the Mavericks trailing 92-91, Harrison Barnes missed a step-back 17-footer with 15 seconds left that Manu Ginobili rebounded before being fouled. Ginobili hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to three, and Seth Curry missed a 3-pointer with 6 seconds remaining.

Curry matched a career high with 23 points, shooting 5 for 10 on 3s. Barnes and Wesley Matthews each had 20 points in the Mavericks’ sixth consecutive loss.

“It’s tough, but the guys were fighting their (rear ends) off and there’s a lot of positives,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to build on positives.”

San Antonio has won six straight against Dallas and 12 in a row at home.

The once-heated rivalry between the Texas teams has cooled considerably with the Spurs’ sustained success and the Mavericks’ injuries and free-agent troubles.

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