Spurs Defeats Dallas

Manu Ginobili scored 26 points and host San Antonio survived blowing a 22-point lead to beat the Mavericks, 97-87, in Game 6 last night, handing Dirk Nowitzki and second-seeded Dallas another first-round exit.

The Spurs got payback after the Mavericks eliminated them a year ago, and will play Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals.

“For us there was no tomorrow,” Ginobili said after the Spurs finished off the Mavericks in front of a raucous home crowd and avoided going back to Dallas for Game 7.

Nowitzki nearly carried the Mavericks to an unbelievable comeback, getting 25 of his 33 points in a remarkable second half. But the Mavericks still stumbled to their third first-round exit in the last four years.

George Hill had 21 points for the Spurs, who are coming off their worst regular season in the Tim Duncan era — making this series all the more impressive.

It will technically go down as an upset. San Antonio is only the fifth No. 7 seed to win a first-round series, and the first since the opening round became a best-of-seven in 2003. It hadn’t been done since New York beat Miami in 1998.

But with a healthy Big Three and a championship pedigree, the Spurs could hardly be called underdogs. And with no clear favorite in the West, they might be as good a Finals pick as any.

As for the Mavericks, it was yet another early playoff disappointment.

It comes three years after the Mavericks came into the postseason as the No. 1 seed, only to be knocked out by No. 8 Golden State. The Mavericks were the NBA’s best road team in the regular season, but went 0-3 in San Antonio and couldn’t pull themselves out of a 3-1 deficit.

Caron Butler scored 25 points and rookie Rodrigue Beaubois had 16 points for Dallas.

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