San Antonio Spurs Botch Closeout Opportunity With Disgraceful Effort

Robert KleemanSenior Analyst IApril 28, 2010

DALLAS - APRIL 27:  Forward Caron Butler #4 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Ian Mahinmi #28 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 27, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Larry W. Smith-Pool/Getty Images)  (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

Manu Ginobili whipped a perfect pass to Caron Butler, who ran the length of the floor for a layup. It was the kind of flawless, crisp delivery the Argentine's fans have come to accept as the norm.

The problem: Butler plays for the Dallas Mavericks, not the San Antonio Spurs.

It was that kind of night for the Spurs—a closeout opportunity ended with a 103-81 thud.

They embarrassed themselves. They embarrassed the franchise, the city, and the guy credited with inventing basketball.

Naismith would have been ashamed.

The Mavs needed a win to keep their season alive. That does not excuse the Spurs' disgraceful effort.

Is "disgusting" too harsh an adjective? Tuesday night's crappy performance left me nauseous.

How about you?

The Spurs committed 18 turnovers and allowed 23 fast break points. They were outhustled on loose balls and on the boards.

Rick Carlisle said of the Spurs after the Mavs' Game Four loss, "they kicked our asses on 50/50 balls."

Tuesday, the Mavs administered the horsewhipping in every way possible. Tim Duncan played 23 minutes and finished three of nine from the field. Ginobili bricked five-of-seven shots. Tony Parker did score 18, but he missed nine of 15 attempts. Ian Mahinmi and Roger Mason Jr. started the fourth quarter.

It was that bad.

Gregg Popovich's kennel filled up quickly.

Richard Jefferson had company. Plenty of it.

That Petco bill might make the $80 million-plus payroll look like pocket change in comparison.

The Spurs competed for all of eight minutes, trimming a 17-point deficit to seven at halftime.

For the rest of the contest, they played like they were drowning in house money.

Maybe the beatdown will remind those on the roster in 2006 and 2009 how those playoff runs ended. The Mavs need a win Thursday to force a Game Seven at the American Airlines Center.

Not to overtake Stan Van Gundy as the "master of panic," but didn't the Mavs clinch their previous two series against the Spurs at the AT&T Center?

I'm slamming the Spurs, and they deserve it.

They stunk. They sucked.

Jason Kidd found his groove again, with 10 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds. Caron Butler poured in 35 points and hauled down 11 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki canned seven of 14 shots. Ginobili hasn't looked the same since he began wearing a bandage on his broken nose. Duncan was garbage again. Does Waste Management offer late-night pick up service?

He won't do that again. He's too proud to duplicate such a dismal effort in front of the home crowd.

The rest of the Spurs must follow his lead.

The fat lady hasn't shown up yet, and every win gives Jason Terry and Shawn Marion the ammunition to justify their dangerous arrogance.

Terry thinks the Mavs are better, despite facing a deficit only eight teams have overcome.

The fat lady is still wolfing down tacos and margaritas on the Riverwalk. The Spurs task: get her to the AT&T Center in two days.

Popovich should have plenty of material for his next film session: The Spurs assisted on 11 field goals. They cannot win when they record seven more turnovers than assists.The Mavs swiped the ball 14 times. The Mavs won the paint battle 42-30.

Mavs, Mavs, Mavs, Mavs, Mavs, Mavs. All Mavs.

Notice a theme here?

Even Dirk Nowitzki had two blocks.

When the spanking had mercifully ended, Butler told TNT sideline reporter Marty Snider his team did not want to go fishing.

"We have pride and character," he said.

San Antonio didn't exhibit either of those traits Tuesday night. The good news for this squad: It can't play any worse.

When the Spurs take the floor for Game Six the veterans should remember the pain of elimination in 2006 and 2009, and the footage from Game Five should inspire the rest.

It won't happen again.

It better not.