Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki will return to the site of one of the best moments of his stellar career.
Ellis scored 12 of his 29 points to lead a fourth-quarter comeback that also got an energetic boost from Blair in his return after getting suspended, and the Mavericks forced a deciding game in their first-round series with top-seeded San Antonio, beating the Spurs 113-111 on Friday night.
"Put all of our chips on the table and see what happens," said Ellis, whose 3-pointer put eighth-seeded Dallas ahead for a good at 94-92 with 5 minutes to go.
Tony Parker matched Nowitzki with 22 points to lead the heavily favored Spurs, who are stuck in a tossup series after they won all four games against the Mavericks during the regular season and had a 10-game winning streak against them after taking the opener.
The only other time these teams played a Game 7, Nowitzki had an improbable three-point play to force overtime in San Antonio in 2006. The Mavericks went on to win the second-round series and reached the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
"Well, it's the ultimate thrill," said Nowitzki, who is 4-0 in Game 7s in his career. "Nothing matters anymore. Just this one game."
And Blair will be there. He missed Game 5 in South Texas after the league suspended him for kicking Tiago Splitter in the head when he was called for a foul when the pair got tangled up and fell to the court in Game 4.
He never said he was mad that the league suspended him, but he showed it, knocking Parker the court with a hard screen that led to a three-point play at the end of the first half for Devin Harris.
Then, he had four rebounds and two steals in the fourth quarter -- and finished with 10 points and 14 boards for his second double-double of the series.
"His energy was great," said his old coach, San Antonio's Gregg Popovich. "He was a man possessed on both ends of the floor. Thought he was really super."
Blair had plenty of time to think about Game 6 after watching the previous game alone in his hotel room in San Antonio.
"Winning on their court would be the best revenge," said Blair, who spent his first four seasons with the Spurs and was with them for a heartbreaking loss to Miami in the NBA Finals last year. "We just have to bring it next game."
The Mavericks handed the Spurs their first road defeat when leading after three quarters this season on the same floor where Vince Carter had given them a 2-1 series lead and sent the crowd into hysterics with an improbable winning 3-pointer.
Fans were standing the entire fourth quarter this time, when the Mavericks trailed by five points to start the final 12 minutes before a 14-2 run for an eight-point lead. Parker got the Spurs close again and had a duel of driving layups with Ellis in the final 2 minutes.
Parker, who had 13 of his points in the fourth and added six assists, spun through the lane before shoveling one up over Nowitzki with his left hand to get the Spurs within 106-105.
The Mavericks pushed the lead back to six before the Spurs made it interesting again with 3-pointers from Danny Green and Patty Mills. It wasn't over until a shot by Mills on an inbound play with 0.4 seconds left was ruled to have been late. It was short anyway.
"I thought we just made too many mistakes tonight," said Tim Duncan, who had 16 points and nine rebounds. "Giving up 37 points in the last quarter is just too much for us. Defensively, we've got to be a little more solid than that."
Both teams had six players in double figures, with Splitter making 11 of 12 free throws for a playoff career-high 19 points. Danny Green had 17, matching his total for the first five games of the series combined, and Tim Duncan had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Carter finished with 13, and Jose Calderon had 12 points and six assists.
The Spurs were 25-0 on the road when leading after three quarters before this game. They're now 55-2 overall for the season. ... The Mavericks had seven turnovers in the second quarter, and the sloppy stretch helped the Spurs cut an 11-point deficit to two at 41-39. Dallas had seven more turnovers in the third, when a six-point lead turned into a five-point deficit. ... Mavericks C Brandan Wright did not play for the first time in the series after playing a series-high 26 minutes in Game 5 when Dallas' pick-and-roll defense was shredded.
- Jason Phillips
- James Capers
- Zach Zarba