DALLAS (Ticker) -- After Tim Duncan was poked in the eye, the San Antonio Spurs almost gave the Dallas Mavericks a kick in the head.
The Spurs nearly erased a 16--point fourth-quarter deficit without Duncan before suffering a 95-87 loss to the Mavericks that ended their season-high winning streak at nine games.
Led by Duncan, the Spurs won the last eight games of a nine-game road trip, then returned home to trounce Denver on Tuesday. During the streak, role players such as Malik Rose, Tony Parker and Emanuel Ginobili lifted their play, compensating for the absence of injured center David Robinson.
Duncan had been stifled through the first three-plus quarters, collecting just 11 points and six rebounds in 34 minutes before taking a finger to the eye with 8:13 remaining and the Spurs trailing, 82-66.
The superstar 7-footer left the game and did not return. He was diagnosed with swelling and blurred vision and will be examined further Friday.
Facing the NBA's best team on its home floor, the Spurs did not quit as they rallied behind Rose, who scored 11 of his season-high 25 points in the fourth quarter. Rose's two free throws cut the deficit to 84-82 with 3:08 to play.
"He is getting more and more comfortable with the new guys, with (Stephen) Jackson and Ginobili and everybody, finding a place out on the court," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We went to him a little bit tonight and he really came through very well."
"Nobody could have done much better than Rose," Mavs coach Don Nelson said. "He was an unstoppable guy tonight, at least with the guy I had guarding him. They made a run at us."
Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 22 points despite a sprained right ankle, responded with a clutch 3-pointer 18 seconds later. After a free throw by Rose, Steve Nash made a banker at the 2:15 mark, rebuilding the lead to 89-83.
"(Nash) was the best player on the floor tonight," Nelson said. "We needed to keep him in the game."
"They made a run at us, and it was important for us (himself and Nowitzki), being leaders on this team, to make some shots and take some of the pressure off of us," Nash added.
Nash, who had 29 points and 10 assists, added a basket and two free throws in the final 35 seconds as Dallas (42-12) opened a five-game lead over San Antonio (37-17) atop the Midwest Division.
"This was a double game," Nelson said. "It's a loss (for them) and a win (for us). The other ones count one."
Michael Finley scored 19 points for the Mavs, who have won four straight games.
"Hopefully, we can use this win and get a little winning streak going," Finley said.
Parker scored 13 points and Ginobili added 11 for the Spurs, who had won the last four meetings in the series.
"I was really happy with our group for continuing to play when a lot of teams would have cashed it in and ended up getting beat by a bundle," Popovich said. "I thought we did a great job of hanging in and not hanging our heads."
"We battled back a few times, but it is hard to overcome that," Rose added.
Dallas took the lead for good at 43-41 on a basket by Raef LaFrentz with 2:43 left in the second quarter. Nash scored 15 points in the first half.
The Mavs scored the first six points of the third period, building the advantage to 52-43 on a basket by Nowitzki. The Spurs managed just four points in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the quarter, falling into a 58-47 hole.
"We had a lot of turnovers early in the game and they turned them into points," Rose said. "They thrive off that, especially in this building. They got themselves going and they got the crowd into it."
Dallas held a 73-60 lead entering the final period and opened its largest margin at 81-63 on a basket by Nash with 8:59 remaining. Duncan departed less than a minute later.
The Mavs shot 45 percent (37-of-82) from the field, held a 47-37 advantage on the glass and forced 18 turnovers.
Stephen Jackson scored 10 points for the Spurs, who shot 46 percent (31-of-68).