|(NBA playoffs) Spurs beat Mavs, face Blazers in next round
The San Antonio Spurs ended a hard-fought first-round series in emphatic style Sunday, routing the Dallas Mavericks 119-96 to advance in the NBA playoffs.
The Spurs, top seeds in the Western Conference, were pushed to a decisive seventh game by the eighth-seeded Mavs, but with their season on the line responded with the runaway win that gave them a four-games-to-three triumph in the first-round series, AFP reports.
"I think our best game was tonight,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of his team that had led the league in the regular season with 62 victories.
"We played very, very well, and I think it was one our best games of the year.''
Tony Parker scored 24 of his 32 points in a first half, when San Antonio connected on a sizzling 68.4 percent of their shots from the field to build a comfortable cushion.
"We have a lot of respect for Dallas, they're a great team,'' Parker said. ''They made it very hard on us. The whole series it was a hard fight.''
Manu Ginobili finished with 20 points, five assists and six steals and Danny Green added 16 points for the Spurs, who will host the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday in game one of their second-round series.
"I think our movement was good today and I think we're getting back to playing Spurs basketball,'' Parker said. "We're going to need it against Portland, they're a very good team.''
The Mavericks were trying to become just the sixth number eight seed to knock off a top seed.
But on Sunday they struggled offensively, with Dirk Nowitzki's 22 points leading the way and Devin Harris contributing 17 points off the bench.
Monta Ellis, who had averaged 24 points over the previous five games, contributed only 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
Nowitzki opened the scoring with a jump shot, but San Antonio promptly won 18 of the next 23 points and never looked back.
Dallas, who trailed 46-68 at halftime, opened the second half with back-to-back three-pointers.
The Mavericks cut the lead to 14 late in the third quarter, but San Antonio closed out the period on a 14-5 scoring run.
"We got hit by a tidal wave early,'' said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. "They had their best game today. They're the best of the best, and they've been great for a long time. They've got a great chance, obviously.''
The Mavericks haven't made it out of the first round since beating the Miami Heat for the NBA crown three years ago.
The game was the last of a record five game sevens in the opening round of the playoffs.
The total already matches the NBA record for the most seventh games in all rounds in any playoff year.