The Mavericks proved today that in a five-on-two game, the five should win, even if the two were incredibly good.
The Mavericks pushed the San Antonio Spurs to the brink of elimination with a 99-90 victory Saturday afternoon in Game 4 at American Airlines Center.
Tony Parker and Tim Duncan combined for 68 points, but that wasn't enough to combat a well-rounded team effort led by Josh Howard's 28 points and solid contributions from Jason Kidd, Ryan Hollins and Dirk Nowitzki.
The Mavericks took control of the best-of-seven series with the win, going up 3-1. They can close out the Spurs and move on to the second round for the first time since 2006 with a win Tuesday at San Antonio.
But it did not come easily.
Both teams played the fourth quarter like the series depended on it _ and it very well may have.
The Spurs knew they couldn't afford to go down 3-1. The Mavericks knew they couldn't afford to go back to San Antonio tied.
The Mavericks had a 10-point lead early in the frame, but Tim Duncan's free throws with 6:44 left drew the Spurs within 87-84 and everybody at AAC knew it was going to be a battle to the buzzer.
The Mavericks eased ahead by six, but George Hill hit a 3-pointer with 2:29 to go making it 93-90. Josh Howard answered with two free throws but when Ryan Hollins, who had a huge impact on the game in the second, missed two free throws, the Spurs were only down five and had a chance to tighten the screws.
They misfired on three consecutive possessions, all from the 3-point line. When Dirk Nowitzki topped off a poor offensive night with a drive to the bucket for a 97-90 edge with 39.9 seconds left, the Mavericks were home free.
The win came in spite of one of the worse quarters the Mavericks have ever had in the playoffs _ the second.
They missed their last seven shots. The Spurs made their last seven. And just like that, a 47-38 advantage reversed field and wound up with the Spurs up 55-51 at the break.
The Mavericks were getting pounded every which way a team can get pounded and, of course, it was Parker and Duncan doing the damage.
There just aren't enough ways to explain how he drilled the Mavericks with mid-range jumpers, penetrations to the rim and even a couple of 3-pointers.
Jason Kidd was guarding him most of the time and it simply wasn't a contest. But as bad as the Mavericks were in the second quarter, they were equally brilliant in the third.
Josh Howard took control offensively, and when Erick Dampier got his fourth foul, Ryan Hollins came in and did a bang-up job defensively for the last eight-plus minutes of the quarter. He had a couple of nice stops of Duncan and then swatted a George Hill drive into the seats, bringing the rowdy crowd to its feet.
The Mavericks outscored the Spurs 29-13 in the quarter until Bruce Bowen nailed a 3-pointer with 21.5 seconds left.
That ended a 30-minute run of clock time during which the Spurs did not get a field goal by anybody besides Parker and Duncan.
Not since the five-minute mark of the first quarter had anybody else made a bucket.
And so, the Mavericks rolled into the fourth quarter with an 80-71 lead and nobody to blame than themselves if they didn't hold on for a commanding lead in the series.
— Eddie Sefko