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 San Antonio.

"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 seconds later.

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 ticks remaining.

"(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 late comeback.

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 in regulation.

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 their role."

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 left.

"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 come Wednesday."

Nowitzki was bumped by Bowen on the other end and made both free throws before Duncan's shot over Dampier rimmed off as the buzzer sounded.

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."