SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs used a strong inside game and superb ball control to take their first lead in the best-of-seven series against the Dallas Mavericks with a 109-103 victory on Wednesday night.
The win on home court gives the Spurs a 3-2 lead in the series and puts them just one win away from moving to the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
"Every run that we made, they answered back," Mavericks guard Vince Carter said. "Now we just have to go take care of business at home."
San Antonio dominated the inside game by scoring 54 points in the paint, compared to just 28 for the Mavericks. Their five turnovers was a franchise playoff low for the Spurs.
“Every game you try to be a little bit better,” Spurs center Tiago Splitter said. “You watch film. You learn about the other team. Both teams are going on streaks here and there, and we got the win.”
"You're never going to quit in a series like this," Mavericks guard Jose Calderon said. "At the end of the day, we are already trying to forget about this one and get ready for Friday... and we'll be back on Sunday."
The Mavericks seemed convinced that if they could ever get a good night from forward Dirk Nowitzki, they would have a much better shot to take control of this series.
In this game, Nowitzki had his best night of the series by scoring 26 points, but Dallas still lost. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, hitting his first six shots in a row.
But when it counted most, Nowitzki took only one shot in the final 3:57 of the game.
"We kind of made a little run there, and I caught [Tim] Duncan on a transition play, and he kind of hedged a little bit," Nowitzki said. "I had a three there; I think that would have been a big three if I would have it, but I was a little gassed at that point. I don't think we lost the game offensively, we lost it on the defensive end."
Nowitzki was averaging just 16 points per game in the first four of this series before the turnaround in Game 5.
"We knew that he could eventually get going," Mavericks guard Devin Harris said. "It’s good to see it when needed."
"I thought he drove it well in Game 4 as well," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. "He had just a couple of tough plays that he just didn't quite finish. Dirk is playing well offensively, and the shots went in tonight."
Dallas was never able to take control of Game 5 and never had the lead. The Mavs battled back to tie the game five different times, but could never get on top, and seemed to be battling uphill all night.
"It felt that way," Mavericks guard Devin Harris said. "We felt we were always within an arm’s length, but we could never get over that hump. We a team like that, you've got to get over the hump.”
The series returns to Dallas for Game 6 on Friday night. If there is a Game 7, it will take place in San Antonio on Sunday.