Parker's last-minute poise sends Mavs to third loss


SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Tony Parker picked the right night to nearly triple his usual scoring output.

The San Antonio point guard scored a career-high 32 points, including seven free throws in the game's final minute, to lead the Spurs to a 111-104 win over division rival Dallas on Wednesday night.

The loss was only the third in 22 games this season for the
Mavericks, who played without leading scorer and rebounder Dirk
Nowitzki (sprained ankle).

Parker's performance helped the Spurs hold off a fourth-quarter
Dallas charge led by Michael Finley, who made four 3-pointers in
the period -- the final one pulling the Mavs to 97-92 with about
three minutes left.

"We were not shooting well and had some turnovers (in recent games), but tonight we stayed together and turned it all around,'' Parker said. "That was key.''

Finley scored 17 points in the final quarter and finished the game with 36, nearly double his season average.

Parker -- averaging 11.7 points this year coming into Wednesday's game -- swished a 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer with 2:24 left, and Stephen Jackson had a dunk following a steal to build San Antonio's lead to 102-94.

"I give Tony a lot of credit because he did what he's supposed to,'' said Steve Nash, who guarded Parker much of the game. "He's got the luxury of playing with two big men. We had to focus on them and (Parker) stepped up.''

Tim Duncan added 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs, and
David Robinson had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jackson contributed
17 points off the bench.

The Spurs, who have struggled at the foul line all season, made
21 of their 26 free throws.

"If we had been shooting at our usual 29th-in-the-league clip, the game might not have come out the same way,'' coach Gregg Popovich said.

San Antonio connected on 12 of 20 shots in the third quarter to open an 80-69 lead. Parker finished the period with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting, and Jackson had a follow-up dunk and a 3-pointer in the final two minutes.

At the other end, the Mavericks struggled on offense, making only six of their 24 attempts. Finley, who had 19 points in the first half, was held scoreless in the period.

Nash had 21 points and 10 assists for Dallas, while Nick Van Exel, starting in place of the injured Adrian Griffin, scored 16.

Finley said the Mavs missed having Nowitzki in their lineup, but
he didn't blame the loss on that.

"This was a very winnable game,'' said Finley, who is averaging just under 20 points a game. "They're very weak in the transition and we didn't take advantage of that.''

Dallas scored 20 fast-break points in the first half, but only three in the final two periods.

San Antonio started strong, with Duncan making his first four
shots and Parker using his speed to drive past Nash to the basket.

The Spurs built their lead up to 25-15 on a 3-pointer by Jackson with 3:50 remaining in the opening period. But Dallas switched to a zone defense, and six minutes later, it was the Mavericks who were ahead by 10.

Finley sparked a 32-6 Dallas run by hitting a 3-pointer and an
18-footer late in the first, and then another jumper and a pair of
layups in the first two minutes of the second quarter. He then
capped the run with a dunk that put Dallas ahead, 47-31.

But the scoring mood abruptly swung back to the Spurs, who had an 18-3 spurt of their own over a three-minute stretch late in the half. Parker made a pair of 3-pointers and Robinson a follow-up dunk on a missed layup by Parker with 1.7 seconds on the clock to pull San Antonio back within one, 54-53, at the break.

Game notes
San Antonio's record is now 13-9. After 22 games last
season, the team was 18-4 and in the midst of an 11-game winning
streak. ... The Spurs, who began life as the ABA Dallas Chaparrals,
have an all-time record of 69-44 against the Mavericks. ... Malik
Rose, who signed a seven-year, $42 million contract during the
offseason, played 18 minutes, one more minute than he had played in
San Antonio's previous three games combined. ... Dallas is now 9-3
on the road, previously losing at Indiana on Thanksgiving Day and
the Los Angeles Lakers last week. ... The Mavericks' potent
offense, tops in the league, has surpassed 100 points in seven
straight games and 10 of their past 11.