DALLAS, Feb. 20 (Ticker) --
After Tim Duncan
was poked in the eye, the
San Antonio Spurs almost gave the Dallas Mavericks a kick in the
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The Spurs nearly erased a 16--point fourth-quarter deficit
without Duncan before suffering a 95-87 loss to the Mavericks
that ended their season-high winning streak at nine games.
Led by Duncan, the Spurs won the last eight games of a nine-game
road trip, then returned home to trounce Denver on Tuesday.
During the streak, role players such as Malik Rose
, Tony Parker
and Emanuel Ginobili
lifted their play, compensating for the
absence of injured center David Robinson
Duncan had been stifled through the first three-plus quarters,
collecting just 11 points and six rebounds in 34 minutes before
taking a finger to the eye with 8:13 remaining and the Spurs
The superstar 7-footer left the game and did not return. He was
diagnosed with swelling and blurred vision and will be examined
Facing the NBA's best team on its home floor, the Spurs did not
quit as they rallied behind Rose, who scored 11 of his
season-high 25 points in the fourth quarter. Rose's two free
throws cut the deficit to 84-82 with 3:08 to play.
"He is getting more and more comfortable with the new guys, with
(Stephen) Jackson and Ginobili and everybody, finding a place
out on the court," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We went to
him a little bit tonight and he really came through very well."
"Nobody could have done much better than Rose," Mavs coach Don
Nelson said. "He was an unstoppable guy tonight, at least with
the guy I had guarding him. They made a run at us."
, who scored 22 points despite a sprained right
ankle, responded with a clutch 3-pointer 18 seconds later.
After a free throw by Rose, Steve Nash
made a banker at the 2:15
mark, rebuilding the lead to 89-83.
"(Nash) was the best player on the floor tonight," Nelson said.
"We needed to keep him in the game."
"They made a run at us, and it was important for us (himself and
Nowitzki), being leaders on this team, to make some shots and
take some of the pressure off of us," Nash added.
Nash, who had 29 points and 10 assists, added a basket and two
free throws in the final 35 seconds as Dallas (42-12) opened a
five-game lead over San Antonio (37-17) atop the Midwest
"This was a double game," Nelson said. "It's a loss (for them)
and a win (for us). The other ones count one."
scored 19 points for the Mavs, who have won four
"Hopefully, we can use this win and get a little winning streak
going," Finley said.
Parker scored 13 points and Ginobili added 11 for the Spurs, who
had won the last four meetings in the series.
"I was really happy with our group for continuing to play when a
lot of teams would have cashed it in and ended up getting beat
by a bundle," Popovich said. "I thought we did a great job of
hanging in and not hanging our heads."
"We battled back a few times, but it is hard to overcome that,"
Dallas took the lead for good at 43-41 on a basket by Raef
with 2:43 left in the second quarter. Nash scored 15
points in the first half.
The Mavs scored the first six points of the third period,
building the advantage to 52-43 on a basket by Nowitzki. The
Spurs managed just four points in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the
quarter, falling into a 58-47 hole.
"We had a lot of turnovers early in the game and they turned
them into points," Rose said. "They thrive off that, especially
in this building. They got themselves going and they got the
crowd into it."
Dallas held a 73-60 lead entering the final period and opened
its largest margin at 81-63 on a basket by Nash with 8:59
remaining. Duncan departed less than a minute later.
The Mavs shot 45 percent (37-of-82) from the field, held a 47-37
advantage on the glass and forced 18 turnovers.
scored 10 points for the Spurs, who shot 46