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Spurs beat up Mavs to force Game 7

DALLAS (AP) -- Michael Finley heard cries of traitor and whiner.
Every time he touched the ball, people who used to adore him were
booing as loudly as possible.

Things should be a lot more pleasant during Game 7 in San
Antonio.

Finley hit back against the Mavericks and their fans in the best
way possible, going from absorbing the low blow that got Dallas'
Jason Terry suspended to hitting the go-ahead basket in the Spurs'
91-86 victory Friday night -- and forcing a winner-take-all finish
to a series that certainly deserves to end that way.

"It's not a personal vendetta for me," said Finley, who spent
the previous nine seasons helping transform the Mavs from lottery
mainstays to perennial contenders. He was released last summer
under the NBA's one-time amnesty clause and is still getting paid
$14.6 million this season by Dallas.

"Now that they start booing me, it makes me focus a lot more,"
he said. "I know now that I am the enemy and I just go out and
play harder."

Manu Ginobili scored 30 points, Tim Duncan persevered through
foul trouble to score 24 and Finley added 16, helping offset a
3-for-15, eight-point outing by Tony Parker.

The Spurs also made all 15 of their second-half free throws,
something they rarely do, to put themselves in position to become
only the ninth team to overcome a 3-1 deficit.

A common thread between six of the teams that have pulled it
off: Game 7 was at home, just like it will be for San Antonio.

"We're at home so everybody thinks we're going to win, but it's
not automatic," Ginobili said.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 26 points, 21 rebounds and five
assists. Everyone else struggled, especially the two guys counted
on most to replace Terry -- Devin Harris and Jerry Stackhouse.

Harris went 3-for-14, not making a basket until late in the
third quarter. San Antonio dared him to shoot in the fourth and he
went 2-of-8.

Stackhouse took Terry's place in the starting lineup and went
4-for-15. He was 3-for-4 in the first quarter, then a miserable
1-for-11.

Dallas shot just 39 percent after being over 50 percent the last
two games.

"We really had a chance at winning this game and playing well,
but we just couldn't get it in the basket," Mavs coach Avery
Johnson said. "We'll get back to practice Sunday, strap it up and
get ready to go back to San Antonio."

Having blown their second straight chance of reaching the
conference finals, the Mavs' only solace is that they'll get back
Terry, their second-leading scorer.

Terry was suspended for punching Finley between his legs during
a loose-ball scramble in the closing seconds of Game 5. He joined
the team at an afternoon shootaround, but had to watch the game at
home.

Terry wasn't forgotten. Fans in the entire front row around the
court all wore his blue road jersey, the equipment manager wore one
of his sweatbands and there were dozens of signs of support -- as
well as crude ones about Finley. Among the printable ones: "Public
Enemy No. 4," referencing his jersey number.

"Jet being back should be a big lift," Stackhouse said. "Even
though we'll be on the road, still we've got to force the tempo. We
were able to do that in Game 2."

That was the only game this series decided by more than five
points. All the rest have come down to the end, befitting a clash
between 60-win teams.

And, now, there's a two-day wait for the decider.

"You just flip a coin and whichever way it lands that's the
team that'll probably win that night," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
said.

Said Dallas' Johnson: "We love the challenge. We don't have any
fear."

Ginobili scored 17 points in the first half. None of his
teammates had more than eight, yet the Spurs were down by only six
points.

"Manu carried us through the entire game," Duncan said. "In
the first half he's the one who kept us alive."

The game was tied going into the fourth quarter. San Antonio
pulled it out with plays on both ends of the court -- and Finley
involved in all of them.

He broke a tie at 82 with a 3-pointer from the right corner with
2:45 left and Nowitzki running at him.

Finley also defended Nowitzki on a missed 3-pointer that
could've tied it with 6.9 seconds left. The off-balanced shot
landed well short. Parker got the rebound, was fouled and hit both
shots, sealing the Spurs' second straight salvation of their title
defense.

Josh Howard scored 17 points and Keith Van Horn, in his first
extended action since breaking his right hand March 31, scored 10.

Dallas controlled the game for three quarters. San Antonio's
biggest lead to that point was 2-0. Every time the Spurs went
ahead, the Mavericks regained the lead on their next possession.

But Dallas was sloppy at the start of the fourth quarter. San
Antonio was, too, but not as bad, and took its biggest lead yet at
74-71 on a three-point play by Duncan.

The Mavericks got three straight baskets to go ahead 81-80 with
3:37 left, forcing the Spurs to call a timeout with an arena-record
of 20,986 going bonkers. Parker answered with his first basket
since the first quarter.

Dallas seemed to catch a break when Duncan got his fifth foul
immediately after. But Harris made only one of two free throws and
Finley answered with his 3.

Nowitzki, Howard and Stackhouse scored all 25 of Dallas'
first-quarter points. The Mavs led 47-41 at halftime. It was nearly
more as Marquis Daniels stole a pass and made a 3-pointer at the
buzzer, but it was released a fraction of a second too late.

Game notes
Phoenix overcame a 3-1 deficit to the Lakers in the first
round. ... Nowitzki's rebounds were a season high and a franchise
record in a playoff game. ... Before the series, Mavs owner Mark
Cuban invited Finley's family to watch the series in his family's
luxury suite. "I like Mike," said Cuban, adding that he'd
consider re-signing Finley when he becomes a free agent after the
2007-08 season. "But, you know, entertainment is part of the game.
Booing him doesn't make him a bad guy."