SAN ANTONIO — The Spurs rode the wide shoulders of Tim Duncan to victory.
The Mavericks were not going to let San Antonio beat them with 3-pointers, and they did not want Tony Parker using the lane as his personal playground. So the veteran Duncan overcame a brief injury scare to score 27 points. The Spurs held Dallas to one field goal in the final seven minutes to rally for a 90-85 win Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
The Mavericks also went scoreless for 51⁄2 minutes during that stretch, their lone field goal coming with less than a second remaining.
San Antonio won despite going 3 for 17 on 3-pointers and getting only 23 points from its normally potent bench.
“We got killed on 3s in the first four outings this year,” Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki said. “It was no secret; we stayed home a little more on 3-point shooters, but you’ve got to give them something, and Duncan in there is obviously still solid.”
Duncan scored nine points on 4-for-5 shooting from the paint in the final quarter to help the Spurs overcome a 10-point deficit.
“Timmy, he’s not going to score 24 a game or anything like that,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s the base from which everything else occurs, whether he’s scoring or not. It just gives us a comfort level and a point from which to operate. He plays (defense), rebounds, scores here and there. He just does his job.”
Parker had 21 points, and Manu Ginobili added 17. Kawhi Leonard had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Tiago Splitter pulled down 11 rebounds for top-seeded San Antonio, which has won 10 straight against Dallas.
Devin Harris scored 19 points for the Mavericks, who nearly pulled off a huge upset.
The Spurs had insisted that what happens in the regular season doesn’t matter, and they were proven right for much of the game — much to the home fans’ dismay. Absent were the crisp passing, aggressive defense, bench scoring and 3-point shooting that made for the league’s best record.