All but over
Spurs shell Mavs 104-90 to take 3-0 series lead
Updated: Thursday May 10, 2001 3:09 AM
Then, with 1:24 left, Juwan Howard made it known that the Mavericks won't go quietly.
Tim Duncan had five of his 18 points at the start of a 21-6 run that sent the Spurs to a 104-90 victory Wednesday night and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
San Antonio led by 28 early in the fourth quarter and the game was turned over mostly to reserves. Howard was there, though, and in the final minutes he took down Malik Rose with a flagrant foul similar to his play in Game 1 that knocked out Derek Anderson for 3-to-6 weeks with a separated shoulder.
"I thought what happened was totally unnecessary," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We're tired of hearing `I didn't mean it.' At that point in the game, that's not necessary."
Howard was ejected for the hit on Anderson, but received a lesser flagrant penalty this time.
"It always happens to me, unfortunately," Howard said. "We got the Spurs thinking I do this on purpose. He's trying to dunk on me, our arms got tangled and we collided."
San Antonio led by 11 in the final minutes of the first half, but consecutive 3-pointers by Dallas made it 48-43 at halftime.
Then came the breakout.
A layup, a dunk and a free throw by Duncan started it. Dallas answered with two jumpers, but San Antonio closed out its run with an 11-0 spurt. They took the crowd out of it and left the Mavericks with scowls on their faces, shoulders slumped.
"We came out in the second half and were a lot more focused," Duncan said. "We passed the ball quicker, and we were crisper."
What made San Antonio's stretch so demoralizing for Dallas was that Duncan and Robinson were bit players.
During that same stretch, Finley put up a crazy layup after a nice steal, Bradley went crashing down after a missed hook shot and Calvin Booth committed two fouls within 12 seconds -- nine seconds after the Mavs had taken a timeout.
"I thought the first half there were a couple of things we did really badly, but we came out in the third quarter and made them take tougher shots," said David Robinson, who led the Spurs with 19 points and 14 rebounds. "It kind of got to them in that quarter."
After shooting a franchise playoff-low 34.2 percent in Game 2, Dallas missed eight of its first nine shots and finished at 34.7 percent. The Mavs also tied their franchise playoff low of 11 points in a quarter, the third; they set that record in Game 1.
"This was probably the worst game we played all year," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "I didn't see it coming. It wasn't for lack of effort. We just couldn't get anything working."
"Believe it or not, we got better looks at the basket in the first half than we had in the first two games," Finley said. "We just can't knock them down."
Nowitzki played only 29 minutes. He was sent to the locker room at the start of the fourth quarter and the Mavericks down 78-54.
"He's a very gutsy guy who wanted to play in this game in the worst way," Nelson said. "He made some shots, but he didn't have a lot of energy. He'll be better in a couple of days."
Howard had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Greg Buckner added 14 points and 12 rebounds in a reserve role.
Sean Elliott scored 17 and Daniels, who left in the fourth quarter with a sore right hamstring, had 13.
The Mavericks, who in the first round became the sixth team to win a five-game series after losing the first two, face even longer odds this time. No team has ever overcome an 0-3 deficit in a seven-game series.
After a 53-win regular season and thrilling first-round upset of Utah, the Mavericks must win Saturday to avoid being swept. This is only their third three-game losing streak of the season.
"It's not over," Howard said. "Call it a miracle or whatever, we still have confidence. Hopefully we can win on Saturday. That will give us a shot in the arm and a boost of energy."
Notes: Five of San Antonio's six playoff wins have been by at
least 10 points. ... The Mavericks trailed 0-2 in two previous
second-round series and won Game 3 at Reunion Arena each time --
1984 and '86, both against the Lakers. ... This was only the third
time in the past seven games against San Antonio that Dallas has
reached 90 points.