|Parker leads Spurs past Mavs in Game 7|
|Sunday, May 04, 2014 8:00 PM|
SAN ANTONIO — Faced with the possibility of having a second straight season end with a Game 7 loss, the San Antonio Spurs played with emotion and let Tony Parker have some fun.
Parker scored 32 points and the San Antonio led by as many as 31 on its way to a 119-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, closing out a stressful first-round series Sunday in seven games.
The finale featured Tim Duncan diving into Dallas’ bench to save a ball and the Spurs’ reserves continually on their feet to celebrate baskets. But no one had as much fun or hit the floor more than Parker.
The All-Star point guard was 11 for 19 from the field and 10 for 13 on free throws as Dallas was unable to keep him from attacking the lane, despite a series of hard fouls.
“I just knew that I had to be aggressive if we wanted to have a chance to win the game because of the strategy that the Mavericks chose,” Parker said. “They just dared me to score.”
Manu Ginobili scored 20 points, Danny Green added 16 points and Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard had 15 points apiece for San Antonio.
Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead Dallas.
Last season ended for the Spurs with a Game 7 loss in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. Facing a much earlier end, San Antonio rode a raucous home crowd and overwhelmed Dallas.
San Antonio advances to face the fifth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, who upset the Houston Rockets in a six-game series. The series opens Tuesday in San Antonio.
The Spurs got off to a quick start as they had done at home all series, but the Mavericks were unable to respond as they did in winning Game 2 on the road.
Leonard’s 16-foot jumper gave San Antonio an 18-7 lead 6 minutes into the game and the lead swelled to 29 with 2 minutes remaining in the first half.
“We gave ourselves a chance but today we got hit by a tidal wave early,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “They had their best game today and we just weren’t able to do quite enough to stay in it early.
“It’s hard when you get hit with an onslaught early the way the guys did.”
Nowitzki struggled through much of the series, but the Mavericks pushed the Spurs to the brink of elimination behind strong postseason performances from Monta Ellis, Vince Carter, Devin Harris and DeJuan Blair.
“On the court what confounded us was that they’ve got shooters all the way around,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Dirk Nowitzki gets a crowd, if you double him you, you leave a lot of other open shooters. So we played him pretty much one-on-one, so we could stay at home a little bit better. That and the ability to shoot it; spread the floor, run the sets that Rick does and the speed of Harris and Ellis was tough for us to handle.”
Dallas also played a physical series.
There were two technical fouls and two flagrant fouls in Game 7 and two more flagrants reversed upon review.
Parker was assessed a technical with 31.6 second left in the first quarter after making a layup on and jawing with former teammate Blair as the two ran down the court. The two had been talking to each other all series and Parker was clearly frustrated at times with the hard fouls committed by Blair on his drives earlier in the series.
But Parker said it was all in good fun.
“I was just laughing with DeJuan,” Parker said of the technical. “That’s why it was so funny to get a technical for that, because I was not even cursing at him. DeJuan played four years (for the Spurs). He lived for a year at my house. I love DeJuan.”
Blair was later assessed a flagrant foul for elbowing Ginobili in the face on a drive. After the foul, Blair stared down Popovich, who was screaming at officials over the severity of the foul.
The flagrant foul energized the Spurs, who went on a 14-2 run to take a 51-27 lead with 8 minutes remaining in the first half.
“Everybody was active and kind of focused,” Duncan said. “We had very little mistakes.”
San Antonio never led by less than 14 points in the second half.
Pierce’s block leads Nets past Raptors 104-103
TORONTO — Slowed by foul trouble and struggling with his shot, Paul Pierce still found a way to come up big for the Brooklyn Nets.
And, right when they needed him most.
Pierce blocked Kyle Lowry’s shot from the lane on the final play of the game, and the Nets held off the Toronto Raptors 104-103 in Game 7 on Sunday to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Pierce said. “I saw him split the defenders, I saw him go up, I went up with him.
“I got my hand on the ball — game over.”
The Nets will begin the conference semifinals at Miami on Tuesday night, facing the two-time defending NBA champion Heat.
Pierce had more fouls (three) than points (none) in the second half, but his only block of the game punctuated a hard-fought series win for the Nets.
Leading by one, Brooklyn used its final timeout after failing to inbound the ball. On the second opportunity, Shaun Livingston tried a lob pass to Pierce, but Terrence Ross got a hand on the ball and then knocked it off Pierce and out of bounds for a turnover.
“I rushed it a little bit,” Livingston said. “I’m thinking Paul is going to hold him off. He kind of slipped there. Once he slipped, it was a jump ball and Terrence Ross is probably the last guy you want to throw a jump ball to.”
Toronto used a timeout and gave the ball to Lowry, whose driving shot was blocked by Pierce as time expired. Lowry lay prone in the key as the Nets surged onto the court in celebration.
“I really didn’t have a great offensive game,” Pierce said. “I was in foul trouble for most of the night. Sometimes you’ve got to find ways to help your ballclub win.”
Nets coach Jason Kidd said Brooklyn’s defense “bent a little” but didn’t break, thanks mostly to Pierce’s clutch play.
“Paul said it best, that’s why he’s here, to make plays,” Kidd said. “He didn’t have a great game, but it only takes one play to help a team win and that’s what he did tonight.”
Brooklyn went 4-0 against Miami in the regular season, but that didn’t mean much to Brooklyn’s Kevin Garnett.
“That goes out the window,” he said. “This is the postseason. They’re playing very well. They went right through Charlotte without a beat and they have a lot of confidence.”
Joe Johnson scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Nets. Marcus Thornton scored 17, Garnett had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the series, and Deron Williams added 13 points.
“Joe has kept us alive this whole series,” Garnett said.
Amir Johnson fouled out with 20 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto, which trailed by 10 with just over six minutes remaining before storming back and having a chance to win it at the buzzer.
“They pushed us to the brink,” Livingston said.
Lowry finished with 28 points and DeMar DeRozan 18 for the Raptors, who fell to 0-2 in franchise history when playing in a Game 7. Toronto lost Game 7 of the conference semifinals to Philadelphia in 2001.
“We were right there,” said a rueful Raptors coach Dwane Casey.
The Raptors, who won the Atlantic Division and set a franchise record with 48 wins, have not won a playoff series since 2001, losing in all three appearances.
Brooklyn led 81-73 to begin the fourth quarter, but Toronto cut the deficit to five at 90-85 on a layup by Lowry with 7:21 left.
Joe Johnson hit a driving hook shot on the next possession, then followed with a 3, putting the Nets up 95-85 with 6:18 remaining.
Patrick Patterson, who missed two key free throws late in Toronto’s Game 3 loss, hit a pair from the line with 56 seconds left, bringing the Raptors to within four at 101-97. Patterson finished with 16 points.
After a missed shot by Pierce, Lowry was fouled and made both free throws, making it 101-99 with 25 seconds remaining.
Trying to force a steal, Lowry fouled Williams on the inbound pass. Williams missed the first but made the second, putting the Nets up three at 102-99. After Toronto called a timeout, Lowry drove for a layup to cut it to one at 102-101 with 16 seconds to go.
Toronto put Livingston at the foul line and he made both shots, restoring the Nets’ three-point lead, but Ross drove for a layup to cut it to one again with 8 seconds left — setting up the frantic finish.
“We battled,” Amir Johnson said. “We just ran out of time.”
He picked up his fourth and fifth fouls early in the third quarter and Brooklyn led 67-55, its biggest lead of the game, after a pair of free throws by Williams at 9:04.
But Toronto went on an 8-2 run as the Nets missed eight straight shots before Andray Blatche ended the drought with a dunk. Alan Anderson made a jumper and Blatche added a layup, restoring Brooklyn’s 12-point edge. DeRozan hit a buzzer-beating 3 to cut it to 81-73 heading to the fourth.
NOTES: The Nets outrebounded the Raptors 42-38. … Garnett’s double-double was his 86th in the playoffs, second only to San Antonio’s Tim Duncan. … Former Raptor Charles Oakley attended the game, as did Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and his wife, actress Elisha Cuthbert. … After he got stuck in traffic on his way to the game, Casey turned around and drove home, then took the subway to the arena. Several major downtown streets were closed Sunday because of the Toronto Marathon. … The Raptors dropped to 3-8 in games that begin before 6 p.m. … The team that led at halftime won all seven games.