Mavericks 118, Warriors 112

Wednesday, May 2nd 2007, 7:34 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ A terrific regular season was a little more than three minutes from a horrendous end. The largest crowd the Dallas Mavericks have ever had was witnessing one of the biggest upsets in NBA playoff history, with a blown 21-point lead to cap it.

Then Dirk Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer.

And another.

By the time Devin Harris got a layup to spin in off the backboard, those 21,041 fans realized they were starting to see something special.

Dallas pulled out the game and, temporarily, the series and its season with a 118-112 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. It took a 15-0 closing kick, with 12 of the points coming from Nowitzki, and all it guarantees is that the Mavericks get another game _ in Oakland on Thursday night.

``This team has a lot of heart, a lot of pride,'' Nowitzki said. ``We hope to go down there and steal one so we can get Game 7 on our home court.''

All this win did was prolong the series. But if the Mavs win two more, they'll have the ninth-ever comeback from a 3-1 deficit.

``Now they have a lot of pressure,'' Dallas coach Avery Johnson said, taking his turn at the mind games Golden State coach Don Nelson has played all series. ``They have 10,000 pounds on them up in Oakland. They have a lot of pressure to play well and win that game.''

In the only other playoff game Tuesday, Toronto beat New Jersey 98-96.

If Nowitzki starts playing like he ended this game, the Warriors will be in trouble.

He scored 12 of Dallas' final 15 points, going 6-of-7 from the foul line in addition to the pair of 3s. He started the run of free throws by getting clobbered on a strong move to the basket; the ensuing foul shots tied the game and put the Mavs ahead. He finished with 30 points, easily his most this series.

``We got on Dirk's back and he carried us,'' said Devean George, who knows the feeling after winning titles with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers. ``That's who he is for us. We're going to ride with him. ... We'll build off this. We've been fighting all year. We'll do the same in the next game.''

More bad news for Golden State: Stephen Jackson, the primary defender against Nowitzki, was ejected for the second time this series, picking up a meaningless technical with 8.9 seconds left. Nelson already said Jackson will be fined a substantial amount, but that may not be enough for the league, especially considering Jackson's history.

Jackson, who was clapping when he was tossed, was befuddled by what happened.

``My mouth didn't open. I didn't say anything,'' he said. ``If somebody wants to take that another way just because I'm Stephen Jackson, then so be it. But I was just getting my team motivated for the home game. I didn't say anything, I didn't do anything and I don't feel like I should've gotten kicked out.''

The Warriors likely will be kicking themselves by tipoff of Game 6 considering how close they were to ending this series in Dallas, having led 112-103 after a lunging 3-pointer by Baron Davis that looked like a knockout punch.

Instead, Davis drew his fifth and sixth fouls during Golden State's meltdown, getting him disqualified before Jackson. The Warriors also missed their final eight shots, wasting 16 3-pointers, a franchise record for a playoff game.

``All we had to do is guard and we didn't do it,'' Nelson said. ``There's no excuse for that. Bad judgment cost us the game.''

Davis had 27 points and nine assists. He was 7-of-7 for 21 points with six assists, including a half-court alley-oop to Jason Richardson, in the second half. Richardson had five of the 3-pointers and 23 points.

Josh Howard had 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Dallas, and was a big part of the fourth-quarter turnaround. Harris scored 11 of his 16 points in the final period, including nine in a row.

``Our guys are resilient, they have a lot of pride,'' Johnson said. ``We were able to finish, we were able to close out a game. When this team gets hot, it can be pretty special.''

The Mavs showed that by winning 67 games this season, among the most in league history. They had winning streaks of 17, 13 and 12 games, so finishing this series with three in a row doesn't seem like a stretch.

They started this game playing at that level, hitting their first five shots _ one from each starter _ and scoring on their first nine possessions. They led by 16 points midway through the first, then went up by 21 in the second quarter.

But the Warriors began their comeback by hitting seven of eight shots, four of them 3-pointers. They were back within seven at the break, then six before the third quarter started because of a technical foul against Jerry Stackhouse assessed as the teams left the court. A 3 by Richardson tied it at 67 with 7:56 left in the third.

Raptors 98, Nets 96

Jose Calderon scored a career-high 25 points and Andrea Bargnani added 18 for Toronto, which staved off elimination with the Game 5 victory.

The Raptors, who lost Games 3 and 4 by double digits, led by as many as 17 in the second half but the Nets got within 95-94 on a 3-pointer by Vince Carter with 27.6 seconds to go. Chris Bosh made one free throw to give Toronto the 98-96 lead and Bostjan Nachbar's 3-pointer bounced off the rim as time expired.

Carter had 30 points for the Nets.

Game 6 in the first-round series is Friday night in New Jersey.

Both Toronto point guards were injured. Calderon sprained his ankle in the final minute of the game, and team officials said T.J. Ford suffered a ``stinger'' when he collided with Carter with less than 30 seconds to play in the first quarter.