The San Antonio Spurs don't have a Luka Doncic-level star, but they were able to get by with the sum of their parts Tuesday.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored a team-high 24 points as one of seven Spurs in double figures, leading San Antonio to a 119-109 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
San Antonio trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half but stormed back with an all-around team effort. Rudy Gay, Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills were each in double figures off the bench, while Aldridge led a foursome of starters in double figures that included Trey Lyles, Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, couldn't keep up despite a 38-point, seven-rebound, eight-assist effort from Doncic. Kristaps Porzingis turned in one of his worst games of the season, finishing with nine points and 12 rebounds on 4-of-15 shooting.
Dallas has now dropped two straight and is three games behind the Houston Rockets in the loss column for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. The Spurs are four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed.
F Kristaps Porzingis: 9 PTS, 12 REB, 3 AST, 2 BLK (4-15 FG, 1-8 3PT)
G Tim Hardaway Jr.: 20 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL (8-17 FG, 4-9 3PT)
G Luka Doncic: 38 PTS, 7 REB, 8 AST, 2 STL (13-26 FG, 6-13 3PT)
F LaMarcus Aldridge: 24 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 3 STL, 4 BLK (10-23 FG, 1-4 3PT)
C Trey Lyles: 14 PTS, 11 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK (5-9 FG, 4-7 3PT)
G DeMar DeRozan: 13 PTS, 5 REB, 12 AST, 2 STL (5-12 FG)
F Rudy Gay: 17 PTS, 4 REB (7-12 FG, 1-4 3PT)
Porzingis, Defensive Struggles Overshadow Doncic's Brilliance
In his last two games, Porzingis has taken 32 shots.
He's made seven.
If you're looking to place the blame on one single person (read: don't do that), it's easy to begin with Porzingis. His recent struggles are a surprise coming off a brilliant February and a three-game stretch to start March where he was averaging 32.7 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
The more urgent, long-term concern, however, remains the Mavericks' inability to play consistent defense. Two nights after allowing the Indiana Pacers to dominate inside and make 52.3 percent of their shots, they fell apart on the perimeter as San Antonio went 46-of-89 from the floor, including an uncharacteristic 15-of-32 mark from three.
The Mavs rank 17th in defensive efficiency for the season, per NBA.com, but their recent lapses won't bode well in the playoffs.
Spurs Cling to Outside Shot at Playoffs
The Spurs have an uphill battle the remainder of the season. Even though they're only four games behind Memphis, there are three additional roadblocks in their way in the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans.
Gregg Popovich's team will have to leapfrog all four teams to extend the franchise's streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 23 seasons.
San Antonio may have found a blueprint Tuesday by continuing to embrace modern basketball. Lyles' ability to stretch the floor helps give DeRozan the green light to rim-run and attack opposing defenses, and he continued his ascent as a passer with 12 dimes.
The Spurs won't get to face off against a lax Mavs defense every night, but this could be the start of a late-season turnaround.