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Dallas Can't Handle Spurs

Loss of Nowitzki too much for Mavericks, who lose, 102-95, and trail in the series, 3-1.

May 26, 2003|From Associated Press

DALLAS — The Mavericks used a combination of small ball and resiliency Sunday night, but that wasn't enough to defeat the San Antonio Spurs. Almost, but not quite.

Tony Parker had another impressive offensive performance, Manu Ginobili was effective at both ends of the court and Tim Duncan recovered from a slow start to lead the Spurs to a 102-95 victory over the Mavericks.

San Antonio took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game 5 scheduled for Tuesday night at San Antonio.

The Spurs are one victory away from advancing to the NBA Finals to play the New Jersey Nets beginning June 4.

The Mavericks kept the game interesting and close throughout. But in the end, the absence of Dirk Nowitzki because of a sprained knee ligament was too much to overcome.

"We knew they were going to use the circumstances to give them energy, and they made a valiant effort tonight -- which is what we expected," San Antonio's Bruce Bowen said.

Parker scored 25 points, Ginobili had a career playoff-high 21 and Duncan -- who had only eight points at halftime -- added 21 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists for the Spurs, who overcame an emotional and desperate effort from the Mavericks.

Michael Finley and Steve Nash scored 25 points each and Nick Van Exel had 22 for the Mavericks.

With Nowitzki and center Shawn Bradley injured, the Mavericks had no choice but to go with a small lineup and try to beat San Antonio the same way Phoenix did twice in the first round -- by collapsing on Duncan on defense and using dribble penetration plays and three-point shooting on offense.

And if the Spurs' youngsters -- Parker and Ginobili -- hadn't carried the offense for long stretches, it might have worked.

After San Antonio went ahead 89-80 with a 7-0 run, Dallas came back and pulled within two on a three-point basket by Raef LaFrentz with 3:12 left.

Malik Rose answered with a dunk, and LaFrentz airballed a three-point attempt on his final shot of the night. He fouled out less than a minute later.

Duncan made one of two free throws, Ginobili stole the ball from Walt Williams and Rose scored inside with two seconds left on the shot clock for a 96-89 lead with 1:40 left.

Two misses by Van Exel were followed by an offensive foul on Duncan, sending the game into the final minute with San Antonio holding a 96-89 lead.

Dallas got no closer than five the rest of the way.

"We had a little deeper rotation and wore them down," Rose said. "They played hard and did all they could. They've got heart, but in the end we wore them down."

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