Friday, January 8, 2010
Updated: January 9, 2:39 PM ET
Mavs collect another comeback win
By Tim MacMahon
SAN ANTONIO -- Erick Dampier, of all people, put the finishing touches on the Dallas Mavericks' magnificent fourth quarter by swishing a 3-pointer from the left corner.
"I knew it was good when I let it go," the big man said with a hearty laugh about his first made 3-pointer since he was an Indiana rookie in 1996-97. "That's what a shooter does."
The Mavericks' real shooters were also pretty impressive in the final frame of their come-from-behind 112-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
It seemed as if the Spurs were a dozen minutes away from trimming the Mavs' Southwest Division lead to one game when San Antonio held a 10-point lead after three quarters at the AT&T Center. All that did was set the stage for the Mavericks to add to their list of phenomenal comebacks this season.
"Ten points?" Dirk Nowitzki said. "That's really nothing."
Not when Nowitzki and Jason Terry get in a simultaneous offensive groove and the Mavs tighten the defensive screws.
Nowitzki scored 16 of his 26 points in the fourth. Terry added 11 of his 21. And with Dampier providing an interior presence, the Mavs managed to stop the Spurs' pick-and-roll parade, holding San Antonio to 33 percent shooting in the final quarter.
Add it all up and the Mavs slammed the door on the Spurs with a 42-23 edge in the last dozen minutes, reinforcing the message that Dallas is a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.
"We're very comfortable in those types of situations," Terry said. "This is what basketball is all about -- winning a game like this against our rivals."
As many times as the Mavs have turned it on down the stretch this season, it was tough to see this one coming. A team as good as the Spurs, which had won six of its past seven games, doesn't often see 13-point leads evaporate in the second half at home.
And Nowitzki was awful offensively through three quarters, misfiring on 13 of his 16 field goal attempts. He somehow flipped the switch to awesome in the fourth quarter, when he went 7-of-12 from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch.
"His determination is something that everybody was feeding off the whole game," coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's uncanny the way he's able to come through."
Added Nowitzki: "It was ugly there for a while, especially for me. But I think we're a veteran team that has pretty much seen it all in this league. We just stay confident, stay with it, stay together."
Terry provided Dirk with a clutch-scoring sidekick, hitting four of five shots from the floor, including a couple of contested jumpers on consecutive possessions. Terry also had four fourth-quarter assists.
The most amazing thing about the Mavs' rally is that they didn't have to wait until the final minutes to take the lead. Dampier, who scored eight of his 14 in the fourth, tied it up with a tip-in with 6:58 remaining. The Mavs took the lead for good on Jason Kidd's 3 off a feed from Nowitzki with 5:13 to go.
"We had a flow and a certain edge, a certain chip on our shoulder in the fourth quarter," Terry said. "We knew what we wanted to do. We were aggressive. We were assertive. If we didn't have the open shot, we moved the ball. When we play like that, we're tough to beat."
Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.