Manu Ginobili scored 23 points, including three clinching free throws in the final seconds, to give the San Antonio Spurs a 93-89 NBA playoff victory at Dallas.
The Western Conference top seed Spurs pulled even at 2-2 in the best-of-seven first-round series with game five Wednesday at San Antonio and game six back in Dallas on Friday.
After a last-shot loss in game three at Dallas, the Spurs felt the game was a must-win matchup since NBA clubs that fall behind 3-1 in a series are eliminated 96 percent of the time.
“It was a tough loss. It was really hard,” Ginobili said on Monday. “This was a huge win for us. I’m glad we got it done.”
The host Mavericks trailed by 20 points in the third quarter before battling back, taking their first lead since early in the second quarter at 81-80 on DeJuan Blair’s inside basket.
Monta Ellis scored a layup and added a free throw off a foul by Ginobili to pull Dallas even at 87-87 with 52 seconds remaining.
Frenchman Boris Diaw answered for the Spurs with a 3-pointer but German star Dirk Nowitzki scored on a rebound to pull the Mavericks within 90-89.
Argentine playmaker Ginobili made 1-of-2 free throws to double San Antonio’s lead and the Spurs stayed on top when Ellis missed a layup. Ginobili sank two final free throws to seal the Spurs’ victory.
“It was really hard,” Ginobili said. “They played the second half very hard, came out very aggressive. We kind of stopped. We got the lead by moving the ball and when we stopped that’s when they got that run.”