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Tim Duncan delivers in third quarter

DALLAS -- Rick Carlisle used a crude term for cow manure to describe the discussion about Tim Duncan’s decline.

“He’s still a premier player and an All-Star,” Carlisle said before tipoff. “I can guarantee you that. All this talk about him kind of transitioning is a lot of [bleep].”

Duncan provided plenty of evidence during the third quarter that he can still serve as a go-to guy for spurts when the Spurs really need him.

The Mavs made a run to trim the Spurs lead to one. Then it was Timmy time.

The Spurs went to Duncan on the block on three straight possessions. He converted those opportunities to two buckets and a pair of free throws despite being defended by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Tyson Chandler. Duncan scored eight of his 17 points in the quarter, helping the Spurs keep the Mavs from pulling even.

But the Mavs have managed to keep it close despite no Dirk Nowitzki and the bad version of Jason Terry (two points, 1-of-10 shooting).

Spurs 71, Mavs 64 entering the fourth.