SAN ANTONIO -- To call this a vintage Vinsanity performance wouldn’t be accurate.
Carter put on a shooting clinic, going 10-of-16 from the floor and 7-of-9 from 3-point range to give the Dallas Mavericks a shot to steal Game 5. It ultimately wasn’t enough, as the Spurs held on for a 109-103 win to put the Mavs on the brink of elimination in this first-round series.
"I was just trying to be aggressive, just leaving it all out there and doing everything I can to try to get this victory," said Carter, whose previous playoff high in a Dallas uniform was 13 points. "We wanted to try to pull it off here so we could try to close it out at home. It didn’t work out that way, but the mentality was just be aggressive and make plays. A couple of shots started to fall for me, so I was able to help out with the scoring load and take some pressure off Dirk [Nowitzki]."
It’s a shame the Mavs weren’t able to take advantage of Carter’s spectacular shooting exhibition. It’s unlikely the 37-year-old will ever have another playoff night like this one.
After all, Carter hadn’t scored this many points in a playoff game since the first round of the 2007 playoffs, back when he played for the New Jersey Nets. He’s only scored more points once in any game during his three-season tenure with the Mavs, for whom he’s found a late-career niche as a sixth man.
Carter, the hero in Game 3 when his buzzer-beating 3-pointer was the winning shot, was the only reason the Mavs didn’t get run out of the AT&T Center in Game 5.
"There in the first half, nobody had much going other than Vince," said Nowitzki, who scored more than half of his 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Actually, Carter was the only Maverick who had much cooking through three quarters. He had 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting at that point. The rest of the Mavs were 17-of-52 from the floor.
"Vince is a great player," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Some of those shots were extremely difficult. He played very well and was extremely aggressive. We just need him to continue to attack."