How it happened: Dirk Nowitzki’s first dominant stretch of the series wasn’t enough for the Mavs to make a comeback.
Not with Tiago Splitter and the Spurs lighting it up on the other end.
Nowitzki had by far his best performance of the series, finishing with 26 points and 15 rebounds. He had 14 points in the fourth quarter, in which he was 7-of-10 from the floor.
After a 3-pointer by Vince Carter cut the deficit to four points, Nowitzki had a wide-open, midrange jumper after getting Splitter to bite on a pump fake the next possession. A score would have cut the Spurs’ lead to two, but Nowitzki missed off the front iron.
Tony Parker, who led San Antonio with 23 points, hit a contested 3 on the ensuing possession to give the Spurs some breathing room.
Splitter, the Spurs’ defensive-minded center, slashed to the basket for layups a few times in the fourth quarter, when he scored nine of his 17 points. The Spurs had 30 points in the quarter, fighting off the Mavs’ furious comeback attempt.
Carter’s spectacular shooting kept the Mavs within striking distance most of the night. He finished with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 7-of-9 from 3-point range. Monta Ellis added 21 points, but only three Mavs finished in double figures.
The Spurs had five players with at least 15 points.
What it means: The eighth-seeded Mavs are on the verge of elimination as they return to Dallas for Game 6. The Spurs, who had the league’s best regular-season record, have seized the series lead by winning two straight games after Carter’s buzzer-beater in Game 3.
Play of the game: Parker’s 3-pointer with 1:52 remaining halted the Mavs’ momentum. Seconds after the Mavs had a shot to cut the deficit to two points, Parker pushed the Spurs’ lead to seven, making it a three-possession game.
Stat of the night: Carter’s previous playoff high as a Maverick was 13 points, which he matched midway through the second quarter. The last time Carter scored at least 28 in a playoff game was in the 2007 with the New Jersey Nets.