The Mavericks gashed open a 45-31 lead in the second quarter after leading 31-20 at the end of the first period, as Brandon Bass scored six points (two dunks and a short jumper) and J.J. Barea also hit for six. Jason Terry's 3-pointer put the margin at 14 before San Antonio called timeout with 6:43 left in the half.
But the Spurs rode back from what seemed liked certain elimination behind reserves George Hill (7 points) and Ime Udoka (7 points), plus the constant, Tony Parker. Parker had 12 points at half on 6-of-13 shooting and Tim Duncan had 11.
The biggest stat might have been in rebounding, in which the Spurs regrouped for a 23-22 edge.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting and also had six rebounds. Josh Howard had eight points, Erick Dampier seven and Jason Kidd three.
Eleven of Nowitzki's points came in the first seven minutes of the game.