Tony Parker writhed in pain alone under the basket, his hand covering the same left eye that was seriously injured last summer when the San Antonio guard was a bystander in a bottle-throwing melee at a nightclub.
He stayed down the entire 20 seconds of a Dallas possession on the other end because no foul was called, and he had to be pulled away from the referees as he was led to the bench.
It turned out to be a cut above the eye that required three stitches, and Parker came back after missing a quarter to lead seven Spurs in double figures with 23 points in a 113-107 victory against the Mavericks on Friday night, San Antonio's seventh straight win.
"I was a little bit mad, obviously, but I just told the doc to hurry up and get the stitches in and get back on the court," Parker said.
The Spurs star said he didn't flash back to the June incident at a New York club, when tiny shards of glass embedded in his cornea and doctors told him he was millimeters away from losing the eye.
"Because it wasn't my eye," he said.
San Antonio didn't need Tim Duncan, who stayed home with a sore right knee, because DeJuan Blair had a season-high 22 points, including 17 on 8-of-9 shooting in the first half. Tiago Splitter, normally paired with Duncan in the starting lineup, had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
"I think this group has shown that ability to if somebody is down then somebody else is going to step up," said Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, filling in — and winning — a second time for the ill Gregg Popovich. "They all have a lot of confidence, and they know we have confidence in them."
The Mavericks, who trailed by double digits for large portions of the game after two blowout losses to San Antonio, made it interesting only after Parker left with 1:02 remaining. Dallas cut a 15-point deficit to four with mostly reserves on the floor in the final minute, but Nando De Colo hit two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to end the threat.
Rodrigue Beaubois led the Mavericks with a season-high 19 points.
Parker's head collided with Elton Brand's arm on a drive early in the first quarter, and he angrily complained about drawing blood without getting the call.
The Spurs, who also played most of the game with Manu Ginobili on the bench, went up by 11 early without Parker. Blair, Boris Diaw and Gary Neal had eight points apiece, and Neal had a four-point play when he hit a 3-pointer from the wing as he was getting bumped by Darren Collison.
"When the big dogs go out, you've got to step up," Blair said. "You can't put your head down and worry about what could have happened."
Blair repeatedly got uncontested shots at the rim off pick-and-rolls and hit a couple of nifty running bank shots, including one when Neal jumped and couldn't find anywhere to throw the ball before sliding a bounce pass to Blair just before coming back down.
"It's hard to overcome layup after layup, and that's what happened," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
When he returned early in the second quarter, Parker hit three straight shots and finished the half with 10 points. For the game, he added 10 assists and four rebounds.
The Spurs took control with a 21-6 run in the third quarter, capped by a Dallas turnover when a pass from Collison went through O.J. Mayo's legs and led to a fast break that ended with Diaw throwing a behind-the-back bounce pass to Splitter for a layup and a 74-49 San Antonio lead.
"They execute so well on offense and they make you pay and they do a good job of exploiting however your defense plays," said Vince Carter, who had 17 points for Dallas. "We just didn't adjust well enough tonight."
Dirk Nowitzki, who debuted a month ago in a 38-point loss at San Antonio after a 27-game absence following right knee surgery, had 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Mayo, the team's biggest 3-point threat, finished with 14 but missed all four from long range.
The Mavericks got within 10 with 4 minutes left during a strange sequence that resulted in a technical foul against Carlisle even though officials reversed the call that caused him to complain.
Vince Carter tipped in a miss, but Courtney Kirkland called goaltending. Carlisle argued and was given the technical by Eli Roe. The Spurs still got the free throw even after Carter was awarded the basket when Kirkland consulted with the crew. The Dallas deficit was briefly 10 before Neal hit the free throw and Parker drove for the back-to-back layups and a 105-90 lead.
NOTES: Budenholzer said there weren't any health problems with Ginobili, who didn't play in the second half and was scoreless on 0-of-2 shooting in just 8 minutes. "We just decided to keep him out and keep him healthy," Budenholzer said. ... Brand played in his 899th game and made his 14th start for Dallas. His last start was Dec. 6 at Phoenix.