Duncan lifts Spurs past Mavericks in Game 1
THE San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan's 27 points, rallied for a 90-85 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday to open their National Basketball Association first-round play-off series.
The Spurs, trying to get back to the NBA Finals after falling to the Miami Heat in last year's championship series, trailed 71-81 with 7min 45sec left to play, but closed the game on a 19-4 scoring run to secure the win.
"We're very fortunate," said Duncan, who added seven rebounds for the Spurs. "First game of the play-offs, just getting that one out of the way, getting the jitters out of the way, was a good one for us."
The team will host Game 2 of the best-of-seven Western Conference series tomorrow.
San Antonio's All-Star point guard Tony Parker added 21 points, six assists and four rebounds as the Spurs notched their 10th straight victory over their intra-state rivals.
The lopsided rivalry, and the Spurs' league-leading 62 regular-season victories, had many thinking the first-round match-up was a mere formality for San Antonio.
But after the Spurs dominated the first quarter, taking a 21-12 lead, the Mavericks roared back to seize control of the contest.
However, they could not maintain the momentum and were held to just one basket from the field in the final seven minutes.
"It's a 48-minute game, and the last seven - you know, we've got to finish better," said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.
Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki was limited to 11 points and eight rebounds on 4-of-14 shooting.
"We had our chance," said the German, who missed his last four shots and did not even get an attempt off in the final three minutes. "They just did a better job closing."
It was a different story for visiting Portland in Houston, where the Trail Blazers edged out the Rockets 122-120 in overtime to open their series.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 46 points - a Blazers franchise record for a play-off game - and pulled down 18 rebounds before he fouled out in overtime.
Damian Lillard drained two free throws with 17 seconds left in the extra period to give Portland a 121-120 lead.
James Harden then missed a three-pointer and Rockets centre Dwight Howard was called for a loose-ball foul on Joel Freeland.
Freeland missed his first free throw but made the second to make it 122-120 for Portland.