Final / OT

Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/11

Game 1: Wednesday, December 11th
Mavericks104Final
Spurs111
Game 2: Thursday, February 20th
Spurs87Final
Mavericks95
Game 3: Thursday, March 20th
Spurs112Final
OT
Mavericks110
Game 4: Wednesday, April 16th
Mavericks93Final
Spurs72

Spurs 112

(48-19, 22-13 away)

Mavericks 110

(51-17, 28-7 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, March 20, 2003

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 OT T
    SA 23 26 33 20 10112
    DAL 21 32 23 26 8110

    Top Performers

    SA: T. Duncan 25 Pts, 18 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 Blk

    Dal: N. Van Exel 35 Pts, 4 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

    San Antonio moves within 2½ games of Dallas

    DALLAS (AP) -- The description of Tony Parker's winning basket Thursday night sounds more like a tricky H-O-R-S-E shot than anything a coach would design in a huddle: Drive by the defensive specialist, flip the ball over two onrushing 7-footers and swish it into the net.

    Tim Duncan

    Tim Duncan, right, scored 25 points to lift the Spurs.

    Parker pulled it off with 1.2 seconds left in overtime, giving the San Antonio Spurs a 112-110 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in a thrilling, pivotal matchup of the NBA's top two teams.

    "We just happened to make the last shot," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "If there were three more seconds, they probably would've went down and scored."

    Tim Duncan had 25 points and 18 rebounds, and Parker and Malik Rose each had 22 as San Antonio moved within 2½ games of Dallas in the race for the league's best record and, just as importantly, the Midwest Division.

    The Spurs, who have won seven of eight and are 5-0 in overtimes, are guaranteed of no worse than tying the season series, which is important because that's the first tiebreaker. San Antonio also now has two more conference wins than Dallas, putting it ahead in the next tiebreaker.

    The Spurs, who have one more game left than the Mavericks, will host the final meeting this season -- which is in the finale April 16.

    "The Mavericks control their own destiny," Duncan said. "What we're worried about is our end of it. Whatever happens, happens."

    Nick Van Exel helped make up for the absence of injured star Michael Finley by scoring a career-high 35 points and providing a lift every time the offense needed it. Dirk Nowitzki had 35 points and 12 rebounds.

    Nowitzki, who played with five fouls since 6:24 left in regulation, hit a 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining in overtime to put Dallas up 110-108.

    The Spurs tied it with 38.9 seconds left when Rose beat Shawn Bradley on a short jumper. Then Nowitzki missed a tough shot with 16.6 seconds and Duncan rebounded. The Spurs called timeout twice to set up their last play.

    Duncan was the first and second option. But he was covered, so the ball went to Parker, and the 20-year-old never hesitated.

    Starting on the right wing, he dribbled past Raja Bell and into the lane, then lofted the ball on a high arc from about five feet as 7-foot-6 Bradley and 7-foot Nowitzki charged at him.

    "I knew it was going in," said the confident second-year point guard.

    Experience, not cockiness, let him make that boast.

    "Tony's been using that shot all year long," Rose said. "He seems to miss it in warmups, but then he knocks it down in the game."

    For their last try the Mavericks went to their hottest hand, Van Exel, but he aired out an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer. At the end of regulation, his halfcourt heave hit the front of the rim, but it might not have got off in time.

    "That was the toughest loss of the year," said Dallas point guard Steve Nash, who had 18 points and seven assists. "It hurts a lot, and it makes you feel sick."

    Mavs coach Don Nelson marveled at Parker.

    "I put my best defender in there and he was able to get right around him," Nelson said. "That young man definitely has something special to his game."

    San Antonio led by eight midway through the fourth quarter, but anyone who has followed this series knew it would get tight. Five of the six previous meetings were decided by three points or less.

    Dallas tied it at 100 when Eduardo Najera made one of two free throws with 1:32 left. Parker nailed a twisting fadeaway with 29.3 seconds to go to put the Spurs back ahead, then Van Exel answered with an 18-footer over a fallen Parker. Parker had another chance to win it, but missed an open 3-pointer with 3 seconds left in regulation.

    Dallas had won three straight, including an overtime victory in Sacramento on Sunday. The Mavs are 3-6 against the Spurs, Kings and Lakers.

    The Spurs are 7-2 against the Mavericks, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers.

    "We had a chance to put a cushion between us and them," Van Exel said. "But they're a good team and you have to give them a lot of credit. We're still 2½ games up. We just have to stay positive."

    Game notes
    Injured Spurs center David Robinson was honored at halftime of his final regular-season trip to Dallas. "In light of what's going on in the world, this is a small thing. But I appreciate it," said the Naval Academy graduate. ... The Spurs won their fifth straight on the road and 22nd this season, one shy of Dallas' NBA lead.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    SA
    DAL
    Points 112 110
    FGM-FGA 46-87 (.529) 39-89 (.438)
    3PM-3PA 9-23 (.391) 8-21 (.381)
    FTM-FTA 11-20 (.550) 24-30 (.800)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-43 15-46
    Assists 24 17
    Turnovers 13 12
    Steals 3 6
    Blocks 5 3
    Fast Break Points 3 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (1/0) 21 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    San Antonio
    Dallas
    Tim Duncan Duncan
    Points: 25
    Reb: 18
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 4
    Nick Van Exel Van Exel
    Points: 35
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0