Spurs try to get back on track in Dallas

(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs will try to put a disappointing Christmas night loss behind them Thursday when they visit American Airlines Center to meet the Dallas Mavericks.

The Spurs fell to the Houston Rockets, 111-98, at home Wednesday night.

"We just didn't give very good performances," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "You can live with that from time-to-time. Nobody's going to play perfect every night. But you can't combine poor performances with a lack of physicality and a lack of discipline. They whipped us. They whipped us good. That's an embarrassing loss."

The Spurs only shot 40.7 percent from the field on Wednesday and allowed the Rockets to go 52 percent from the floor. Houston went for 40 points in the first quarter, and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time a Popovich-coached team allowed 40-plus points in the first quarter at home.

Manu Ginobili was sensational with 22 points off the bench as every San Antonio player who played on Wednesday, scored. Kawhi Leonard (13) and Tim Duncan (11) were the only other Spurs in double figures. Duncan grabbed 14 rebounds and recorded six blocks.

Noticeably absent from the scoring leaders was Tony Parker. The former All- Star guard finished with six points, which was his second single-digit scoring night in the last four games.

The Spurs will take on a long-time rival and fellow Southwest Division foe.

The Mavs ended a two-game losing streak on Monday with a 111-104 road victory over those same Rockets.

Dallas used a dominant third quarter (36-21) to take an eight-point lead into the final frame. The Mavs closed it out and did so on the broad shoulders of their future Hall of Famer.

Dirk Nowitzki netted 31 points and moved into sole possession of 13th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. He passed Alex English when he knocked down a jumper at the 11:09 mark of the third quarter.

"Alex was an unbelievable player in this league, so it was a tremendous honor, but I'm actually more happy with this win," Nowitzki said.

Monta Ellis had 18 points, five assists and five rebounds for Dallas, followed by 16 off the bench for Vince Carter. Jose Calderon managed 15 points and Jae Crowder added 11 for the Mavs.

The Mavericks hit the road for three straight, starting Saturday night in Chicago.

The Spurs have won five straight against their Texas rival, including a season sweep of four games last season. San Antonio has taken two straight and four of six in Dallas.