Final Score: San Antonio 92, Dallas 91
San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) - Tim Duncan delivered a monster effort after
a one-game layoff, and the San Antonio Spurs held on for a 92-91 victory over
the Dallas Mavericks to clinch a playoff spot.
Duncan, held out of Tuesday's startling 107-83 loss at Northwest Division
bottom-feeder Minnesota with a sore left knee, racked up 28 points and 19
rebounds to lead the way as the Western Conference front-running Spurs secured
a postseason berth for a 16th consecutive season.
"Well he's a great player, he is going to play well either way," Dallas head
coach Rick Carlisle said about the challenge of facing a rested Duncan.
Gary Neal added 16 points and Kawhi Leonard, also rested during Tuesday's
setback, had 12 along with six rebounds for San Antonio.
"Without the points he gave us coming off the bench, we would be in big
trouble," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said about Neal.
The Mavericks entered the contest having matched a season high with four
straight wins, and nearly made it five after scoring seven unanswered points
to pull within 92-91 in the closing seconds. Dallas got the ball back with a
chance to prevail, but Vince Carter's 3-point try rimmed out at the buzzer.
Dirk Nowitzki finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Mavs, with
Darren Collison netting 12 points in the setback.
The Spurs led virtually wire-to-wire and were ahead by as many as 13 points
after Duncan's reverse layup early in the third quarter made the score 54-41.
Dallas came through with a 14-4 run to briefly get back into it, though San
Antonio countered with an 8-2 spurt in which Duncan accounted for six points
to go up by a 66-57 count with 3 1/2 minutes left in the frame.
A Neal 3-pointer to begin the fourth quarter restored a double-digit cushion
at 76-66, but a 12-1 sequence capped by Nowitzki's triple with 7:46 left gave
Dallas its first lead of the night.
Neal knocked down a trey on the other end, however, to start a series of seven
straight San Antonio points that staked the Spurs to a 84-78 edge midway
through the final session.
San Antonio owned an eight-point advantage after Leonard's basket from beyond
the arc created a 92-84 score with 2:37 remaining, but the Spurs failed to
score thereafter and very nearly gave the game away.
An O.J. Mayo jumper followed by Carter's 3-pointer brought Dallas within 92-89
entering the final minute of play, and following a shot clock violation by San
Antonio, Nowitzki sank a 16-footer that cut the deficit to one with 28.2
Nowitzki then grabbed the rebound on a missed jumper by the Spurs' Manu
Ginobili, with the Mavs calling timeout with 8.7 seconds left. Carter got an
open look at the top of the key following the inbounds play, but his on-target
shot wouldn't fall through as San Antonio escaped with the win.
The teams were deadlocked at 41-41 with 2:25 to go in a tightly played first
half, before San Antonio put up the final nine points of the second quarter.
Tiago Splitter was fouled on a layup with one second remaining and hit the
subsequent foul shot that sent the Spurs into the break owning a 50-41 lead.
San Antonio swept the four-game season series between the in-state rivals and
dealt the Mavericks a fifth straight loss as the visitor in this set ...
Carter, Mayo, Mike James and Brandan Wright all ended with 10 points for
Dallas, which finished with a 39-32 advantage in bench points ... Mavs forward
Shawn Marion missed a fourth consecutive outing with a strained left calf.
03/15 00:42:01 ET
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