DALLAS, May 15 (Ticker) -- There appears to be a pot of gold at the end
of the Dallas Mavericks' rainbow. The San Antonio Spurs,
meanwhile, just may have run out of magic.
Jason Terry's rainbow jumper late in overtime capped one of the
best playoff games in recent memory and put the exclamation
point on the Mavericks' thrilling 123-118 Game 4 victory over
the Spurs, whose title defense suddenly is in major trouble.
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Terry scored 32 and Dirk Nowitzki finished with 28 points for
Dallas, which has won three straight games to take a commanding
3-1 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.
"Jason Terry and some of the clutch shots that he made tonight
were awesome," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said.
The Mavericks can eliminate the defending champion Spurs and
advance to the conference finals for just the third time in
franchise history Wednesday when the teams meet in Game 5 in
"It's not a dagger to the heart because we're still breathing,"
said Spurs forward Michael Finley, who was inserted into the
starting lineup and burned his former team with 14 points. "If
it was a dagger to the heart, we'd be dead. We still have life.
"We have to remain positive, knowing that we have an opportunity
to go back to San Antonio and get a game there. Hopefully,
we'll be fortunate enough to make a return trip here."
In a game that featured 20 ties and seven lead changes, San
Antonio had a chance to win it at the end of regulation on both
defense and offense. However, Spurs forward Bruce Bowen fouled
Nowitzki, whose two free throws tied it with 8.5 seconds left,
and Tim Duncan's jumper rimmed off as time expired.
"One play either way, one call either way, whatever it may be,
it came down to that," said Duncan, who was visibly upset and
hardly spoke to reporters after the game.
Terry opened overtime with a driving layup, giving Dallas a lead
it did not relinquish the entire extra session. San Antonio
got within 117-116 on Bowen's 3-pointer with 2:02 left, but
Terry answered with a fadeaway jumper from the baseline 20
Finley made two free throws with 1:01 to play, drawing the Spurs
within 121-118. But Terry made his biggest shot on the
Mavericks' next trip, draining a stunning high-arching jumper
from the right corner over Duncan to cap the scoring with 38
"(Duncan) came out further on me than I expected," said Terry,
who scored 23 of his points after intermission. "I tried to
drive past him but I couldn't. Then I just did what I do and I
was lucky enough that the shot went in."
The Spurs failed to get any closer as Tony Parker badly missed
two free throws with 32 seconds left and then they waited too
long to foul on the Mavericks' possession, ending any hopes of a
Parker scored a playoff career-high 33 points and Duncan added
31 for top-seeded San Antonio, which is faced with the
predicament of a 3-1 series deficit against a Dallas team that
has won seven of its eight games this postseason.
In NBA history, teams trailing three games to one in a
best-of-seven series have come back to win the series just eight
times in 163 opportunities.
"We have to remain confident in our defensive scheme," Finley
said. "Hopefully, that will be enough for us to get a win."
By contrast, the fourth-seeded Mavericks hold all the momentum
following a crisp 50 percent (39-of-78) shooting effort. They
connected on 28-of-32 free throws and committed only 10
turnovers against 17 assists in scoring one of the biggest wins
in team history.
"Playing them over and over, we are getting to know what they
do," Terry said. "They've been switching on us more lately.
That gives us a quickness advantage."
With the game tied at 96-96, Finley drained a 3-pointer and
later threw down a thunderous transition dunk on three defenders
to help the Spurs open a 103-98 lead with four minutes to play
However, Nowitzki made three free throws - including one
following San Antonio's second delay-of-game violation - and
Terry knocked down a pair of foul shots to draw Dallas within
105-103 with 2:28 left.
"Dirk and Jason made some big shots and you know we never gave
up and continued to do what we do," said Mavericks guard Devin Harris, who finished with 18 points and six assists, serving as
a spark-plug for the third straight game. "Everybody played
Jerry Stackhouse drained a tough fadeaway on the Mavericks' next
possession to tie the game, but Duncan responded with a hook
shot and a free throw on back-to-back trips for a 108-105
advantage with 48 seconds remaining.
Terry then drove to the basket and was fouled with 39 seconds
left, making both free throws to create a one-point game. After
the Spurs threw away the ensuing in-bounds pass, Nowitzki
missed a jumper but Harris gathered the rebound and fed Terry
for a 15-footer that he knocked down for a 109-108 lead.
"He was great, especially down the stretch," Nowitzki said of
Terry, who had not scored 30 points since January 9 at Boston.
"He was aggressive. He got to the line down the stretch in the
fourth and made some big shots. He's one of the best clutch
shooters that I have ever played with. He just doesn't care
what time it is on the clock."
San Antonio answered right back as Duncan's drive was denied by
Erick Dampier but the two-time NBA MVP kicked the ball out to
Finley, who connected on a clutch 3-pointer with 15.4 ticks
"I'm not trying to come out here and try to be a one-man show to
win this series," said Finley, who played the previous 8 1/2
seasons with the Mavericks. "I'm part of a team and I'm trying
to do whatever it takes for this team to win. Unfortunately, I
didn't do enough because we lost. Hopefully I do a lot more
Nowitzki was bumped by Bowen on the other end and made both free
throws before Duncan's shot over Dampier rimmed off as the
Parker scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting to help the Spurs
take a 26-19 lead after one quarter. The Mavericks shot only 36
percent (7-of-19) in the opening period but rebounded to make 56
percent (13-of-23) of their shots in the second quarter as they
forged a 53-53 tie at halftime.
"They came out and tried to hit us with a haymaker at the
beginning of the game and we withstood that and just continued
to fight," said Stackhouse, who finished with 26 points. "They
are showing why they are the world champions. They just keep
coming and fortunately for us we're able to combat our hunger
with their experience, and it's working for us."