DALLAS: On the brink of elimination from the NBA playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks battled back in the fourth quarter to win on Friday (Saturday in Manila), moving within a game of ousting top-seeded San Antonio.
Monta Ellis scored 29 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 22 to spark the Mavericks over the Spurs 113-111, leveling their NBA playoff series at three wins each and setting up a seventh-game Sunday at San Antonio.
“It’s the ultimate thrill. It’s win or go home,” German star Nowitzki said. “Everything else that happened goes out the window.
The Mavericks, ignited by a 14-2 run deep into the fourth quarter that put them ahead to stay, are trying to become only the sixth bottom seed to oust a top seed in the opening round of the playoffs.
“This is what you live for if you play this kind of sport,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Spurs, who had the best record in the regular season to earn a home-court edge throughout the playoffs, led 81-76 entering the fourth quarter before the hosts rallied to push San Antonio to the brink as well.
“We’re going back to our home,” said Spurs guard Tony Parker. “Hopefully we can have better energy and play better defense.”
Dallas big man DeJuan Blair, who was suspended for game five, had 10 points and 14 rebounds, making a key steal and pulling down a vital rebound in the final seconds.
“He was really upset about getting suspended and he wanted to make up for us,” Ellis said of Blair. “He gave us a lot of energy, made some big plays for us. He played a wonderful game.
Blair stole the ball from Parker and grabbed a rebound to set up free throws for Dallas, but Danny Green, who went 7-for-7 from the field, and Australian Patty Mills each sank 3-pointers to pull the Spurs within the final margin.
San Antonio received a final chance when Ellis hurled the ball out of bounds at the far end of the court with 1.3 seconds remaining and deflected it out of bounds on an in-bounds attempt to give the Spurs a final shot with 0.4 of a second remaining.
But Mills was short on a 3-point try after the final buzzer and the Mavericks had the triumph.
Frenchman Parker scored 13 of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter for San Antonio.“If we want to win the series we have to play better defense,” Parker said.
The Mavericks have never won a series that they have trailed 3-2, losing seven prior times.Brazil’s Tiago Splitter had 19 points for the Spurs while Green finished with 17 and Tim Duncan had 16. AFP