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NBA Game Summary - San Antonio at Dallas

(Sunday, March 23rd)

Final Score: San Antonio 88, Dallas 81

Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - Manu Ginobili poured in 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists, and the Spurs rode a huge run in the third quarter, during which Dirk Nowitzki was injured and exited the affair, to escape Dallas with an 88-81 win in a clash of Southwest Division rivals.

Approaching the middle of the third period, the Mavericks had built a 12-point margin, 54-42, when Ginobili knocked down a layup and then buried a bucket from beyond the arc to ignite an impressive 19-0 barrage.

Tim Duncan's layup at the 3:18 mark notched the Spurs' first lead of the half, 55-54. Duncan was fouled on the play and connected at the stripe, while Nowitzki left the game before the free throw was ever attempted.

The reigning MVP blocked a shot by Ime Udoka just before the Duncan layup, and appeared to twist his left ankle and knee when he landed. Nowitzki sprawled to the hardwood, clutching at his lower leg, as the American Airlines Center crowd came to a dead silence.

Nowitzki had to be helped off the court, putting little to no weight on his left leg as he slowly made his way to the locker room. Team officials termed it as a lower left leg injury, and his status will be re-assessed Monday.

"I fell awkwardly and my left leg got caught underneath of me," Nowitzki explained. "I am going to get re-evaluated in the morning, and I hope to have more information then."

San Antonio continued its dominant scoring streak after Nowitzki left, and when a Ginobili three-pointer finally capped the flurry, the Spurs had soared past the Mavs, 61-54, with under two minutes to go in the third.

Heading into the final 12 minutes of action, San Antonio maintained a seven- point cushion, at 65-58.

In the fourth quarter, Dallas trimmed the deficit to as little as three points, but each time the Mavericks threatened, the Spurs manufactured a response. The advantage dwindled down to four points, 82-78, in the final minute after Jason Kidd drained a trey, but San Antonio shot 6-for-7 from the foul line in the last 30 seconds of the contest to lock up the victory.

"(It was) another typical game between the Spurs and Mavs," commented San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich. "Great game, great competitiveness, and we were fortunate that we shot a little bit better in the second half, obviously, but both teams played their butts off."

San Antonio, sitting in the sixth spot in the Western Conference playoff race, grew its lead over seventh-seeded Dallas to three games. Meanwhile, the Mavs are just one-half game ahead of No. 8 Golden State and only two games in front of ninth-place Denver.

Duncan bounced back from a slow start to finish with 19 points and 13 boards for the Spurs in the fourth and final meeting of the campaign against Dallas. San Antonio has triumphed in three straight matchups with the Mavericks after losing the initial showdown, clinching the regular-season series for the first time since 2004-05. Tony Parker provided 13 points and three assists, as the Spurs snapped a two-game skid visiting Dallas. Overall, San Antonio has won three consecutive contests after dropping four in a row.

Jerry Stackhouse scored 19 points to pace the Mavs, who are 0-8 against teams currently in playoff positions since altering the makeup of their own locker room with the addition of Kidd on February 19 in a trade with New Jersey. Jason Terry tallied 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, and Josh Howard had 13 points while grabbing nine boards.

"Different seasons bring on different challenges," explained Dallas head coach Avery Johnson. "This is a challenging period for us, but there is no surrender, there is no withdrawal, there is no backing up. We've got to meet it head on. I feel we're up for it, but we're going to have to look at some things, especially offensively."

Nowitzki totaled 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists before the injury forced his early exit, which sent Dallas reeling to its third defeat in a row on the heels of a five-game win streak. The Mavericks have also dropped three straight affairs at American Airlines Center -- the first time since December of 2004 such a feat has occurred.

"We've got to find a way to win some games," lamented Stackhouse. "We played three good teams and we were doing some good things during the course of the games, we just haven't been able to close it out. ... Right now, it's about extra effort, extra hustle play. We've got to put a little more into it. I don't think that anybody's not giving effort, I'm not saying that, but we need a little extra effort on rebounds (and) loose balls. That's what it's coming down to right now."

Just past the midway mark of the first frame, San Antonio was on top 13-10 before Dallas ripped off an 11-2 run to close the quarter. Nowitzki sparked the surge with back-to-back buckets and three boards, and a Stackhouse trey with 32 seconds left gave the Mavs a 21-15 advantage moving into the second stanza.

Dallas limited San Antonio to just 4-of-22 shooting from the floor in the opening period. The 18.2 percent conversion rate marked a season-low for Mavericks' foes in any quarter of action.

The Spurs used an 11-3 burst to overtake the lead. Duncan hit his first field goal of the game after starting 0-for-8, pushing San Antonio ahead, 33-32, with 2:30 to play.

The affair was knotted at 36-36 with less than a minute remaining, but a Terry jumper was followed by a Stackhouse finger roll layup, and Dallas took a 40-36 edge into the locker room.

Game Notes

The Spurs climbed to 47-23 overall, while the Mavs fell to 44-26...San Antonio treks to Orlando on Tuesday aiming to improve its 19-17 mark as the guest...Dallas concludes a four-game homestand on Tuesday when it welcomes the Clippers...The squads combined to shoot 11-of-39 from beyond the arc (28.2 percent)...The Spurs hit on 23-of-24 free throws (95.8 percent), while the Mavs only made it to the line for 11 attempts, knocking down nine (81.8 percent)...San Antonio dominated Dallas on the glass, outrebounding the Mavs 54-43, including 16-3 on the offensive end...Kidd finished with seven points, seven boards and five assists for Dallas.

03/23 19:08:03 ET

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