Spurs 104, Mavericks 87
SAN ANTONIO (AP)
''It was a team victory,'' Ginobili said. ''We didn't have Tony. Tony has been leading us the last 40 games. He's been amazing, scoring 30 points in a lot of games, dishing 10 assists, and we didn't have him today. . . It was a great team victory.''
Parker, who missed his third game of the season, sat out with a strained right quadriceps. The Spurs were also without backup center Tiago Splitter, who had mid-back spasms.
Their absences seemed to inspire rather than dampen the Spurs' spirits. They had 28 assists, two shy of their season high, and outrebounded the Mavericks 54-34 in a physical matchup with their in-state rivals.
''If you have to do it because Tony is struggling or not feeling well, we got to do it,'' Ginobili said.
Ginobili started at point guard in place of Parker, picking up assists on back-to-back layups by DeJuan Blair that gave the Spurs an 8-4 lead with 8:08 left in the first quarter. Blair did his part, finding a driving Kawhi Leonard for a layup that gave the Spurs a 12-8 lead.
The early sharing allowed the Spurs to take a 24-21 lead while shooting 50 percent from the field in the first quarter. San Antonio maintained its advantage throughout the game with the exception of a two-minute spurt by Dallas in the third quarter.
''Once they made the run, we were taking the ball out of the basket too often,'' Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. ''When you do that, it's hard to push the ball. When the ball goes in, a team can set their defense.
''When we were rebounding and getting it out in the third, we were able to make up some ground even though Dirk (Nowitzki) had a tough shooting night in the second half.''
Nowitzki had 16 points on 5-of-21 shooting and did not have any rebounds through the first three quarters. He finished with two rebounds.
''Everybody plays Dirk hard and physically,'' Carlisle said. ''We have to work on getting him some cleaner looks.''
Nowitzki was hounded by several Spurs throughout the game, but newly signed Boris Diaw proved the most effective defender for the Spurs. Diaw played 16 minutes after signing with the Spurs earlier in the day. The 6-foot-8, eight-year veteran only had two points, but had three rebounds and guarded Nowitzki primarily.
''I thought he did a really good job on Dirk,'' Duncan said. ''He was physical with him. He contested every shot he took and made life difficult for him. I thought he was great tonight.''
Despite Nowitzki's struggles, the Mavericks battled back to open the second half. After trailing for much of the game, the Mavericks opened the third quarter with a 15-6 run while the Spurs struggled offensively.
Jason Terry's 18-foot jumper with five minutes remaining in the third gave the Mavericks a 60-58 advantage, their first lead since 4-2 two minutes into the game. The Spurs responded quickly, however, going on a 22-3 run to gain a decisive advantage behind consecutive 3-pointers from Ginobili and Gary Neal to close the period.
It was the fourth and final meeting of the lockout-shortened. All the victories came on each team's home court.
Both sides displayed the raw intensity that has defined their rivalry.
''They obviously did not want to lose the season series so they came out with a little more fire,'' Nowitzki said.
Terry taunted the crowd by ''gliding'' like a jet after an early 3-pointer and was jawing with fans at courtside during the second half. Terry led the Mavericks with 18 points, Jason Kidd had 14 and Shawn Marion added 13.
Terry's intensity was matched by the Spurs' Stephen Jackson, who was jawing with several Mavericks after Duncan fell to the floor after being fouled.
Duncan went down three times in the first half, jamming his neck after running into Ian Mahinmi's chest and falling over some photographers after saving a ball. Duncan also went down in the second quarter when Brian Cardinal attempted to swipe the ball and instead raked Duncan's right eye. The normally mild-mannered Duncan drove the lane and dunked on the ensuing play, staring at Cardinal with a discontented look.
''I feel good, I feel good,'' Duncan said. ''It was a physical game and that's basketball game for you. I feel good.''
Lamar Odom did not play due to a coach's decision.
''It's something that I talked to Lamar about both yesterday and today,'' Carlisle said. ''That I was going to look at a different rotation tonight.''
NOTES: Parker missed his third game of the season and second in two weeks. He sat out the Spurs' 120-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers with a strained right quadriceps. Parker also did not play due to a coach's decision on 137-97 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 21. . . . San Antonio native Eric Dawson played the final minute of the game, scoring four points. He hit a 15-foot jumper on the ensuing play after blocking a shot.