LaMarcus Aldridge leads Spurs to 97-91 win against MavsNovember 15, 2017 5:46am

Nov. 14-- DALLAS-In the first of four meetings between the Mavericks and Spurs in a 32-day span, the Mavericks were reminded just how big the gap is between themselves and the San Antonio Spurs.

Their Interstate 35 rivals wore down the Mavericks in the fourth quarter to claim a 97-91 victory that was built around LaMarcus Aldridge's 32 points.

Aldridge is doing a bang-up job of anchoring the Spurs in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs (9-5) long ago figured out how to play, and win, without key players. And this was no different.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, fell to 2-13 and while Dennis Smith Jr., J.J. Barea and Dirk Nowitzki kept them in the game most of the way, it was a matter of not shooting the ball well (41 percent) and again suffering too many turnovers (15), which led to 17 Spurs points.

Smith led the Mavericks with 27 points while Barea had 16 off the bench.

It wasn't a bad time to catch the Spurs, who have been without perennial MVP candidate Leonard (right quad) for the whole season. Coach Gregg Popovich said before the game the return of Leonard would tilt more toward the sooner side than the later side, admitting that he wasn't quite sure what that meant.

Either way, the Spurs continue to stay afloat without their best player and the Mavericks, while getting some solid individual performances, couldn't keep pace with the visitors.

Neither side led by more than seven points until the middle of the third quarter, when the Spurs went up 60-49.

But the Mavericks avoided the third-quarter blues as they crept back within 62-60 going into the fourth.

However, the Spurs gave them a textbook education in how to move the ball, specifically on one occasion when all five Spurs touched it before they got an Aldridge slam with 5:03 left that pushed their lead to 82-71.

Aldridge was schooling Salah Mejri during that stretch. He scored six of the points in the Spurs' 8-0 run that rebuilt their 11-point lead.

The Mavericks got within five points twice in the final minute but couldn't get a stop to give themselves a chance to inch closer.

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(c)2017 The Dallas Morning News

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