Wed, May 21, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Mavericks free throw the Spurs to death in Game 1

AP , SAN ANTONIO

Head coach Don Nelson, left, of the Dallas Mavericks, talks to Eduardo Najera during the first half of Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Western Conference Finals on Monday at the SBC Center in San Antonio, Texas.

PHOTO: AFP

The Dallas Mavericks missed their first free throw and made their final 49 in succession Monday to pull off a stunning comeback and beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-110 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

The Mavericks closed the game with a 24-9 run, thanks to some defensive moves by Don Nelson, after falling behind by as many as 18 points and trailing nearly the entire game.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 38 points, going 17-for-17 from the line, and Michael Finley was 10-for-10 at the stripe while scoring 26. Nick Van Exel was 7-for-7 at the line for 14 points, and Steve Nash was 6-for-6 and scored 22.

NBA playoff history includes 10 games in which a team made all of its free throws, with the best of the bunch a 28-for-28 performance by Phoenix in 1989.

That makes what Dallas did even more impressive, given that they were 0-for-1 from the line after Eduardo Najera missed the first one with 2:25 left in the first quarter. That was the same first quarter in which this game looked totally different from the way it ended. San Antonio's Tim Duncan was nearly unstoppable, Dallas was frustrated, and it looked as though the Spurs might turn it into a runaway.

The three-hour, one-minute game sure didn't turn out that way.

Duncan finished 40 points and 15 rebounds, while Tony Parker had 18 points.

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