Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs passes the ball while being defended by Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks at the AT&T Center on April 20, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas - by Chris Covatta
The Spurs, trying to get back to the NBA finals after falling to the Miami Heat in last year's championship series, trailed 81-71 with 7:45 left to play, but closed the game on a 19-4 scoring run to secure the win.
They host game two of the best-of-seven Western Conference set on Wednesday.
Duncan added seven rebounds for the Spurs, whose All-Star point guard Tony Parker added 21 points, six assists and four rebounds as San Antonio notched their 10th straight victory over their intra-state rivals.
The lopsided rivalry, and the Spurs' league-leading 62 regular-season victories, had many thinking the first-round match-up was a mere formality for San Antonio.
But after the Spurs dominated the first quarter, taking a 21-12 lead, the Mavericks roared back to seize control of the contest.
They couldn't maintain the momentum however, and were held to just one basket from the field in the final seven minutes.
"It's a 48-minute game, and the last seven -- you know, we've got to finish better," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki was limited to 11 points and eight rebounds on 4-of-14 shooting.
"We had our chance," said Nowitzki, who missed his last four shots and didn't even get an attempt off in the final three minutes. "They just did a better job closing."
The Spurs faithful got a scare when Duncan limped off the court in the third quarter. He returned early in the fourth and connected on four of his five shots from the field in the final nine and a half minutes.
"It was a charley horse (cramping)," Duncan said. "I knew I would just need a couple of minutes and I would be fine."
In the day's other Western Conference clash, the Houston Rockets hosted the Portland Trail Blazers in a battle of two of the league's top offenses.
The Rockets were the NBA's second-ranked offense, averaging 107.7 points per game, followed by the Trail Blazers who averaged 106.9 points per game in the regular season.