Aldridge has 32 points, Popovich gets milestone in Spurs win
Aldridge has 32 points, Popovich gets milestone in Spurs win
LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 32 points in his hometown and the Spurs beat the Mavericks 97-91 on Tuesday night.
Popovich became the fastest NBA coach to 500 road wins. He got there in 835 away games, 41 fewer than Pat Riley. Those two and Don Nelson are the only coaches to win 500 on the road.
Aldridge, a product of Dallas’ Seagoville High School, scored eight points during a decisive stretch of the fourth quarter. He’s averaging nearly 23 points per game this season while San Antonio has been without starters Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker.
“I think I’m definitely more confident and I’m playing my game more this year,” Aldridge said. “I think Pop definitely has tweaked some things where I can be myself more out there and play more confident, and it’s working out for us.”
Aldridge’s coach notices the change in the forward’s second year in San Antonio.
“He’s been our most consistent player,” Popovich said. “His effort level every night has been off the charts. He’s been a leader for us, helping the younger guys and new guys understand the system.”
Patty Mills added a season-high 19 points for the Spurs.
Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. led Dallas with a career-high 27 points, and J.J. Barea and Harrison Barnes had 16 each. The Mavericks are 2-13 for the second straight season and fifth time overall.
Just like in a loss to Cleveland on Saturday, the Mavericks cut a double-digit second-half deficit to one point, but couldn’t gain the lead.
“Every time we made a mental lapse, they got going,” Barnes said. “We know that is what they are going to do here and capitalize every time we made a mistake.”
After Dallas got within 62-61 early in the fourth, Mills hit a long 3 and a driving layup, then Aldridge scored eight of his team’s next 13 points to put the Spurs up 82-71 with 5:03 to play. Dallas never got closer than four points down the stretch.
The Spurs led by 11 during the third quarter, but Barea made back-to-back 3s and fed Salah Mejri an alley-oop pass for a layup as Dallas closed the quarter on a 9-0 run to get within 62-60.
Mills scored 13 points in the first six minutes of the second quarter, including three 3s. Aldridge was hit with a technical foul with 3:33 left in the second quarter for shoving the Mavericks’ Salah Mejri after a scrap under the Mavericks basket.
The Spurs led 44-39 at the break.
Spurs: Popovich was asked before the game how he handles the rush of letters and emails responding to his political comments: “I do read everything and I try to respond. It takes time because there’s a lot of letters. The only ones I don’t respond to are the ones are so courageous in their negativity that there’s no address, just comments. That’s hard to respond to. But there are people who disagree and say why, and it’s erudite and intelligible and (I say), ‘Yeah, you’ve got a point.’ Those people deserve to be responded to.”
Mavericks: Dallas continues to play without guard Devin Harris, who missed his second straight game with bruised ribs, and Dorian Finney-Smith was also out Tuesday with left quad tendinitis.
‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay
- A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
- Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance
ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”