Spurs survive Mavs' comeback to advance
SAN ANTONIO -- Manu Ginóbili scored 26 points and San Antonio survived blowing a 22-point lead to beat the Mavericks, 97-87, in Game 6 on Thursday night, handing Dirk Nowitzki and second-seeded Dallas another first-round exit.
The Spurs got payback after the Mavs eliminated them a year ago, and will play either Phoenix or Portland in the Western Conference semifinals.
"For us there was no tomorrow," Ginóbili said after the Spurs finished off the Mavs in front of a raucous home crowd and avoided going back to Dallas for a Game 7.
Nowitzki nearly carried the Mavs to an unbelievable comeback, getting 25 of his 33 points in a remarkable second half. But the Mavs still stumbled to their third first-round exit in the last four years.
George Hill had 21 points for the Spurs, who are coming off their worst regular season in the Tim Duncan era -- making this series all the more impressive.
It will technically go down as an upset. San Antonio is only the fifth No. 7 seed to win a first-round series, and the first since the opening round became a best-of-seven in 2003. It hadn't been done since New York beat Miami in 1998.
This series loss is especially tough for team owner Mark Cuban, who plunked down an extra $30 million for a deal at the trade deadline that brought Caron Butler from Washington.
Butler scored 25 points and rookie Rodrigue Beaubois had 16 points. But aside from them and Nowitzki, no other Dallas player scored more than six points.
Plagued by slow starts in this series, Dallas got off to its worst yet when it mattered most. The Mavericks trailed, 22-8, after the first quarter, hitting just four of their first 18 shots. By halftime it was 47-34, a franchise playoff low for Dallas.
But the Mavericks clawed back.
Nowitzki, who had four fouls in the first half, shrugged off the foul trouble and put Dallas ahead, 57-56, with a three-pointer midway through the third quarter.