48-19, 22-13 away
112
1234OTT
SA2326332010112
DAL213223268110
51-17, 28-7 home
110

San Antonio moves within 2½ games of Dallas

DALLAS (AP) -- The description of Tony Parker's winning basket

Thursday night sounds more like a tricky H-O-R-S-E shot than

anything a coach would design in a huddle: Drive by the defensive

specialist, flip the ball over two onrushing 7-footers and swish it

into the net.

Tim Duncan, right, scored 25 points to lift the Spurs.
Tim Duncan, right, scored 25 points to lift the Spurs.

Parker pulled it off with 1.2 seconds left in overtime, giving

the San Antonio Spurs a 112-110 victory over the Dallas Mavericks

in a thrilling, pivotal matchup of the NBA's top two teams.

"We just happened to make the last shot," Spurs coach Gregg

Popovich said. "If there were three more seconds, they probably

would've went down and scored."

Tim Duncan had 25 points and 18 rebounds, and Parker and Malik

Rose each had 22 as San Antonio moved within 2½ games of Dallas in

the race for the league's best record and, just as importantly, the

Midwest Division.

The Spurs, who have won seven of eight and are 5-0 in overtimes,

are guaranteed of no worse than tying the season series, which is

important because that's the first tiebreaker. San Antonio also now

has two more conference wins than Dallas, putting it ahead in the

next tiebreaker.

The Spurs, who have one more game left than the Mavericks, will

host the final meeting this season -- which is in the finale April

16.

"The Mavericks control their own destiny," Duncan said. "What

we're worried about is our end of it. Whatever happens, happens."

Nick Van Exel helped make up for the absence of injured star

Michael Finley by scoring a career-high 35 points and providing a

lift every time the offense needed it. Dirk Nowitzki had 35 points

and 12 rebounds.

Nowitzki, who played with five fouls since 6:24 left in

regulation, hit a 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining in overtime to put

Dallas up 110-108.

The Spurs tied it with 38.9 seconds left when Rose beat Shawn

Bradley on a short jumper. Then Nowitzki missed a tough shot with

16.6 seconds and Duncan rebounded. The Spurs called timeout twice

to set up their last play.

Duncan was the first and second option. But he was covered, so

the ball went to Parker, and the 20-year-old never hesitated.

Starting on the right wing, he dribbled past Raja Bell and into

the lane, then lofted the ball on a high arc from about five feet

as 7-foot-6 Bradley and 7-foot Nowitzki charged at him.

"I knew it was going in," said the confident second-year point

guard.

Experience, not cockiness, let him make that boast.

"Tony's been using that shot all year long," Rose said. "He

seems to miss it in warmups, but then he knocks it down in the

game."

For their last try the Mavericks went to their hottest hand, Van

Exel, but he aired out an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer. At

the end of regulation, his halfcourt heave hit the front of the

rim, but it might not have got off in time.

"That was the toughest loss of the year," said Dallas point

guard Steve Nash, who had 18 points and seven assists. "It hurts a

lot, and it makes you feel sick."

Mavs coach Don Nelson marveled at Parker.

"I put my best defender in there and he was able to get right

around him," Nelson said. "That young man definitely has

something special to his game."

San Antonio led by eight midway through the fourth quarter, but

anyone who has followed this series knew it would get tight. Five

of the six previous meetings were decided by three points or less.

Dallas tied it at 100 when Eduardo Najera made one of two free

throws with 1:32 left. Parker nailed a twisting fadeaway with 29.3

seconds to go to put the Spurs back ahead, then Van Exel answered

with an 18-footer over a fallen Parker. Parker had another chance

to win it, but missed an open 3-pointer with 3 seconds left in

regulation.

Dallas had won three straight, including an overtime victory in

Sacramento on Sunday. The Mavs are 3-6 against the Spurs, Kings and

Lakers.

The Spurs are 7-2 against the Mavericks, Sacramento and the Los

Angeles Lakers.

"We had a chance to put a cushion between us and them," Van

Exel said. "But they're a good team and you have to give them a

lot of credit. We're still 2½ games up. We just have to stay

positive."

Game notes

Injured Spurs center David Robinson was honored at halftime

of his final regular-season trip to Dallas. "In light of what's

going on in the world, this is a small thing. But I appreciate

it," said the Naval Academy graduate. ... The Spurs won their

fifth straight on the road and 22nd this season, one shy of Dallas'

NBA lead.