DALLAS, May 12 (AP) --
When the buzzer sounded, Dirk Nowitzki
the court gently touching his bloodied mouth.
|In addition to 25 points, Michael Finley dished out 10 assists on Saturday.|
|NBA.com TV highlights:28.8+ |
Although his front right tooth was missing, Nowitzki and the
Dallas Mavericks hadn't felt this good in more than a week.
Nowitzki led a team-wide break from a series-long shooting
slump, scoring 30 points as the Mavericks beat the San Antonio
Spurs 112-108 Saturday to avoid being swept from the second-round
series. Game 5 is Monday night in San Antonio.
Dallas, which had lost the first three games by at least 14
points each, improved to 4-0 in elimination games this postseason.
Nowitzki has been the leading scorer in three of them.
This time, the third-year forward from Germany did it three days
after needing two IVs to play through food poisoning and despite
being elbowed in the mouth by Terry Porter
with 4:52 left.
"A lot of things have happened to me lately; I don't know what
the deal is," Nowitzki said. "As long as we win a couple of
games, I'll be all right."
Nowitzki missed only 33 seconds of game time while getting some
gauze to stop the bleeding, then came back and grabbed the first
possible rebound. He also went on to score his final four points,
including two free throws with 6.1 seconds left, and make a smart
"What a gutsy guy," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "Our whole
team kind of rallied around that, I think, and everybody played at
a high level."
After shooting horribly through three games, the Mavs made
nearly half their shots (45-of-93) and their leading men --
Nowitzki, Michael Finley
, Juwan Howard
and Steve Nash
-- all came up
The outburst produced the most points in regulation against the
Spurs all season and it was 19 more than they had allowed in eight
games this postseason.
Finley had 25 points and 10 assists. His two free throws with
1.7 seconds guaranteed the victory, after his missed free throw
with 15.7 seconds left kept San Antonio's hopes alive.
Howard had 17 points and eight rebounds. Three of his baskets
came during a 9-0 run early in the fourth quarter that put Dallas
ahead for good.
Nash had 10 points and 14 assists, including six on the team's
first eight baskets as the Mavericks finally returned to the
up-tempo, jump-shooting style that got it this far and led by 17 in
the second quarter.
San Antonio answered with a 19-4 run that made it a two-point
game at halftime. The Spurs led by three early in the fourth
quarter and kept hitting clutch shots every time Dallas tried
putting them away.
"Usually when you get that momentum back and you get the game
tied or go ahead, you think you're going to get the game," said
, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds. "Even into the last few seconds I thought we were going to get the game."
San Antonio closed to 108-107 on a dunk by Antonio Daniels
Nowitzki made his two clutch free throws, again leaving San Antonio
within a 3-pointer of tying it.
But Nowitzki never let the Spurs get it off. He fouled Tim
with 5.1 seconds left and the poor foul shooter made only
the first one.
After his miss was nearly tipped in by Malik Rose
, Sean Elliott
got the rebound, only to have the ball popped away by Greg Buckner
Dallas' defensive specialist. Finley wound up with it, leading to
the game-securing shots.
"It was just a lucky play," Buckner said.
The Spurs might've won if they were better from the foul line.
They were 29-of-41, with five misses in the final quarter, while
Dallas went 18-of-19.
"I missed eight free throws and we lost by three -- that's the
difference right there," said Duncan, who led San Antonio with 29
points and 18 rebounds.
Nowitzki opened the game with a short jumper, then dunked over
Robinson, letting the Spurs know immediately that they weren't
going to go quietly.
Nowitzki had 16 points at the half. He scored eight in the third
quarter despite picking up his fourth foul early in the period.
He lost his tooth while trying to get the ball from Porter.
Porter's elbow clipped Nowitzki in the mouth and he immediately ran
to the locker room, blood dripping from his lip. The Mavs led
103-97 at the time.
Nowitzki said the tooth had been loosened over the summer. He
said he's glad it's gone so he can get a fake one.
"He looks like a hockey player," Howard said. "He's no longer
a sex symbol to the ladies like he was before."
The victory prevented the Mavericks from their first four-game
losing streak of the season. Having become the sixth team to win a
five-game series after losing the first two, they're now trying to
become the first team to ever win a seven-game series after losing
the first three.
"We're not ready for our summer to start," Finley said. "It's
been very evident in the closing games. It just shows you the type
of heart we have as a team.
"Hopefully we can keep that going in San Antonio."
Notes: Calvin Booth
had 16 points for Dallas after scoring four
points through three games. ... Duncan had five assists, all of
which he had before he scored his fifth point. ... Derek Anderson
was in a suit on the Spurs' bench, his first courtside appearance
since separating his right shoulder on a hard hit by Juwan Howard in Game 1. Anderson is expected to be out at least two more weeks.
... Dallas has never been first sweep in five seven-game series.
... The Spurs are 2-2 on the road this postseason after winning 11
of their final 13 road games in the regular season. ... Unless the
Mavericks force a Game 6, this was the last game at Reunion Arena.
The Spurs also were the opponent in the first game, on Oct. 11,