Duncan scores 32 points as Spurs even series

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- First there was foul trouble for Dirk Nowitzki, and then he got hit with a technical foul. Next came

serious foul trouble for Nowitzki, which was followed by the

ejection of Don Nelson.

Malik Rose, left, had 25 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes to help the Spurs win Game 2.
Malik Rose, left, had 25 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes to help the Spurs win Game 2.

More technical fouls and ejections quickly followed in a game

that seemed to be all but over by the time the tempestuous first

half ended.

Dallas did manage to make a late push, but Tim Duncan's 32

points and the Spurs' early 24-for-24 free-throw shooting were too

much to overcome Wednesday night as San Antonio defeated the

Mavericks 119-106 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

"We definitely lost our composure, but we knew coming in how it

would be,'' Mavericks guard Nick Van Exel said. "Our focus was to

keep fighting though it and play through it as best we could, but

tonight it just got the best of us.''

The Spurs evened the series with Game 3 set for Friday at

Dallas. Perhaps that will be the night that a low-key officiating

crew is assigned to the game.

Following a Game 1 that featured 72 personal fouls and 98 free

throws, notoriously hot tempered referee Joey Crawford called four

technical fouls in the first 10:11.

Two of the techs came in rapid succession during a timeout when

Nelson tried to engage Crawford in a staredown. Assistant coach Del

Harris was tossed by Crawford late in the second quarter after he

walked onto the court.

"Don (Nelson) walked up to half court. I never told him to sit

down because that's not my job to tell him to sit down. I told him

to go coach his team, and he said 'No, I'm not going to.' So I hit

him with one,'' Crawford told a pool reporter. "I said 'Go coach

your team.' He said 'I'm staying right here.' So, bang, I threw


"Del Harris was different,'' Crawford said. "Del Harris came

to my partner (Ted Bernhardt) at a timeout and said that he was

going to get ejected, and to eject him on one (technical) which

isn't unusual. This has happened in the history of the NBA where a

coach has walked up to a referee and said eject me. So we eject


The Spurs went to the line 28 times in the first half and made

26, with Malik Rose going 13-for-14 while shooting a majority of

the technicals.

The second half consisted of little more than waiting to see if

any more individual technical fouls would be called -- none were --

and whether the Mavericks could make an improbable comeback with

assistant coach Donn Nelson Jr. running the team.

They got within eight, but no closer.

Rose finished with 25 points, Tony Parker had 19 and Stephen

Jackson 17. San Antonio made 37 of 45 free throws.

"It is tough being in a situation where you're up so much and

are trying to play the clock out, basically,'' Duncan said. "We

talked about trying to win the game instead of sustain the lead.''

Michael Finley led the Mavericks with 29 points and Nowitzki had


Things started going poorly for Dallas midway through the first

quarter -- and they quickly got much worse.

Nowitzki was called for his second foul with 7:39 remaining in

the period for slapping at the ball as Duncan went up for a shot.

Nowitzki turned to Crawford to complain, and Crawford immediately

gave him a technical.

Jackson made the ensuing foul shot to give the Spurs an 11-7

lead, and Nelson took a risk by leaving Nowitzki in the game with

two fouls.

With 4:49 left in the first, Bernhardt whistled Nowitzki for his

third personal -- a questionable call as Nowitzki defended Rose

under the basket. That forced Nelson to remove Nowitzki from the

game, and Nelson was gone himself with 2:46 left in the quarter.

"Nothing that Nellie does surprises me,'' Spurs coach Gregg

Popovich said. "He's clever and creative, but he was real creative


A layup by Duncan with 1:31 left in the first completed a 17-2

run and gave the Spurs a 33-16 lead, and Jackson had a fast-break

layup with 6:53 left in the second quarter to complete an 18-3 run

that gave the Spurs a 55-29 edge.

San Antonio led 69-44 at the break, and Dallas got within 17 in

the third before Nowitzki picked up his fourth and fifth fouls --

the latter of which was a questionable call by Crawford on which

Nowitzki allegedly fouled Rose on a breakaway. It led to a

three-point play that gave the Spurs an 87-67 lead.

A 17-6 run ending with a three-point play by Van Exel made it

105-97 with 4:58 left, but Duncan hit a 15-footer and blocked a

jumper by Nowitzki, leading to a breakaway layup by Parker that

upped the lead to 12 with 3:51 left -- ending the Mavs' final


"We took tonight on the chin, but in no way, shape or form do

we feel depressed or down,'' Nelson Jr. said. "We'll take this as

a challenge and learn from it and try to get one at home.''

Game notes

Crawford also called a technical foul on Van Exel late in

the first quarter for rolling the ball to him after the Dallas

guard was called for a charging foul. Referee Dick Bavetta broke

Crawford's string of consecutive technical fouls at four when he

called one on Bruce Bowen for pushing Raef LaFrentz after the two

were getting untangled late in the first quarter. Bernhardt

whistled Spurs center Kevin Willis for a technical foul late in the

second quarter. ... Dallas F Eduardo Najera was held out because of

a thigh bruise. ... Shawn Bradley started for Dallas in place of

LaFrentz. ... The team that has won Game 1 in the Western

Conference finals has won the series 16 consecutive times.