Dallas wins series 4-3 (Game 3 of 7)

Dallas wins series 4-3

Game 1: Sunday, May 7th
Game 2: Tuesday, May 9th
Game 3: Saturday, May 13th
Game 4: Monday, May 15th
Game 5: Wednesday, May 17th
Game 6: Friday, May 19th
Game 7: Monday, May 22nd

Spurs 103

(63-19, 29-12 away)

Mavericks 104

(60-22, 34-7 home)

    7:00 PM ET, May 13, 2006

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    SA 18 30 21 34103
    DAL 27 26 20 31104

    Top Performers

    SA: T. Duncan 35 Pts, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    Dal: D. Nowitzki 27 Pts, 15 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Nowitzki, Mavs put defending champ Spurs in hole

    DALLAS (AP) -- Tim Duncan got the San Antonio Spurs in position to pull out a victory.

    Manu Ginobili nearly took them the rest of the way -- until he fumbled a handoff from Robert Horry in the closing seconds.

    The ball rolled across midcourt, then out of bounds, and the Spurs couldn't make anything out of a wild last-gasp chance, letting Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks cling to a thrilling 104-103 victory Saturday night and a 2-1 lead in their second-round series.

    "I don't know what happened," Ginobili said of the squandered chance. "Someone tipped the pass from Robert. It was an unfortunate play."

    It happened so fast that Mavs coach Avery Johnson credited Josh Howard for getting his fingers on it, but Howard credited Jason Terry and Devin Harris.

    Harris took the credit, making him the star for a second straight game. He was a surprise starter in Game 2, when he scored 20 points and energized Dallas to a 22-point victory.

    "I was able to get a hand in without fouling and got a little piece of the ball," said Harris, who scored 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting.

    Nowitzki scored 21 of his 27 points from the foul line, including a go-ahead pair with 7.9 seconds left, and had 15 rebounds.

    Nowitzki played the final 1:05 with a badly twisted ankle suffered on the play when Duncan fouled out with a season-high 35 points and 12 rebounds.

    "(Nowitzki) came back out there and gutted it out," Johnson said. "He knew we needed this game."

    As great as Duncan was -- for the third straight game this series -- he and the Spurs are going to have to be better.

    They go into Game 4 on Monday night trying to shake a strange fact: Since Duncan arrived, San Antonio has never won a series it trailed after three games. The last time the Spurs were behind this deep in the playoffs was the last one they lost, against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round two years ago.

    "We're going to have to come out and know the importance of this (next) game," Duncan said. "It is a must-win for us."

    The fourth quarter provided the back-and-forth heavyweight bout expected from teams that won 63 and 60 games this season. For the first time in the series, and at the most crucial point thus far, both were at their best at the same time.

    San Antonio, which trailed by 13 in the second quarter, went back ahead in the final six minutes. The lead went back and forth after that, with Dallas keeping pace by making 18 of 19 free throws, until Stackhouse went to the line with 2 seconds left following Ginobili's bobble.

    He missed the first, then intentionally missed the second. His attempt to hit the rim and hope time ran out in the scramble for the rebound backfired when he thudded the ball off the backboard. Horry caught it and San Antonio called timeout.

    "I tried to hit back rim and would up not hitting anything," Stackhouse said. "I just overshot it."

    Brent Barry heaved the ball from in front of the Mavs bench to the lane, but Howard was there to disrupt it.

    After being run over in Game 2, the Spurs came back from a three-day break with a new starting lineup and a reshuffled defense. Barry got the nod over Ginobili and defensive ace Bruce Bowen was covering Howard, leaving Horry to guard Nowitzki.

    Ginobili, who came in fighting injuries, a creaky jumper and an admitted lack of confidence, scored 24 points, four shy of his total over the first two games. He made 10 of 11 free throws, but San Antonio missed 10 for the game.

    Ginobili scored 10 points in the final quarter, many on dazzling drives. That included San Antonio's last two baskets; the final one -- which put the Spurs up 103-102 -- was a left-hander from the right side.

    Ginobili said he didn't mind losing his starting spot. He came off the bench eight times last postseason.

    "I'm trying to contribute, bring energy from the bench, anything to help the team win," he said.

    Tony Parker seemed to have his legs back after a three-day layoff, scoring most of his 15 points on drives to the basket.

    Michael Finley scored six points in 27 minutes and was booed loudly in his playoff return to Dallas, despite being the fourth-leading scorer in Mavericks history.

    Nowitzki made a season-low three field goals, but took only nine shots, his second fewest all season. Almost every time he got free, he got fouled, putting up 24 free throws. Both his makes and attempts were franchise playoff highs.

    Seeing him on the ground with his twisted ankle was a frightening sight for Mavs fans. In Game 3 of the Dallas-San Antonio conference finals in 2003, Nowitzki hurt a knee and didn't return the rest of the series, which the Spurs won in six games.

    Nowitzki said he expects to play Game 4.

    Terry had 19 points and four assists. Stackhouse, who missed a potential winning 3-pointer at the end of Game 1, scored 10 the hard way. He made his first three, missed five straight, then made his last two.

    Counting his two missed foul shots at the end, Dallas went 39-of-50 from the line.

    Playing at home for the first time in 18 days, Terry got the energy pumping by running to the far baseline and asking for cheers. It certainly got him going as he scooted between two flat-footed Spurs to snag the opening tipoff and turned it into a layup.

    In the early going, Harris was fouled twice, blowing by Parker and making a layup on the first one, and Howard withstood a double-team from Bowen and Duncan to get to the line. San Antonio got five quick fouls trying to keep up with the younger, more athletic Mavs.

    Game notes

    San Antonio missed 13 of its first 17 shots, but finished making 48 percent. ... Mavs F Keith Van Horn returned to practice this week for the first time since breaking his right hand March 31. "Medically he's cleared, but he's not there yet," Johnson said.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 103 104
    FGM-FGA 39-82 (.476) 32-66 (.485)
    3PM-3PA 3-10 (.300) 1-5 (.200)
    FTM-FTA 22-32 (.688) 39-50 (.780)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-36 12-39
    Assists 12 12
    Turnovers 12 14
    Steals 8 3
    Blocks 3 5
    Fast Break Points 7 15
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 33 (0/0) 26 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 3 13

    Top Performers

    San Antonio
    Tim Duncan Duncan
    Points: 35
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2
    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 27
    Reb: 15
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1