SAN ANTONIO —
“It’s always tough to change gears from the regular season to the playoffs when you’re preparing for a team and they’re preparing for you specifically,” Duncan said.
San Antonio returned to its winning formula over the final seven minutes, taking an 86-81 lead with a 15-0 run. Splitter tied the game with five minutes remaining, rolling to the basket off a screen for an easy layup off a pass from Parker.
The All-Star point guard then drove the lane for a layup and drained a 13-foot jumper, which he punctuated with a loud scream after Dallas called timeout with 2:45 to go.
“I was able to push the ball and get some easy baskets,” Parker said. “It got our confidence going, so once again defensively, the stops that we made helped us offensively.”
Dallas had taken an 81-71 lead when Brandan Wright completed a three-point play with 7:45 remaining. The Mavericks proceeded to miss their next 12 shots and committed three turnovers.
“Defensively, we started making stops,” Ginobili said. “We were at a point where they were getting to the rim. They were making shots and nothing seemed to work for brief periods. There was a point where we were down 10 where we made a couple of steals. We ran, we got fouled, we got a couple of easy buckets, and that changed our mentality.”
Nowitzki, who finished with 11 points, was 2 for 6 from the field in the final quarter. The veteran forward was closely defended by Splitter.
“They’re not necessarily unbelievably athletic and long, but they are very smart,” Nowitzki said. “What they want to do defensively is take you out of your comfort zone.”
Duncan, wearing a heavy brace on his left knee, walked off the court gingerly with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter after banging knees with Monta Ellis. He did not get up as he customarily does during a timeout to greet his teammates.