Spurs subdue Mavs, Portland edge Rockets
SAN ANTONIO - (UPDATED) The San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan's 27 points, rallied for a 90-85 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday to open their NBA first-round playoff series.
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.
"We're very fortunate," said Duncan, who added seven rebounds for the Spurs.
"First game of the playoffs, just get that one out of the way, get the jitters out of the way was a good one for us."
The team hosts game two of the best-of-seven Western Conference set on Wednesday.
San Antonio's All-Star point guard Tony Parker added 21 points, six assists and four rebounds as the Spurs 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."
- Ebb and flow -
It was a different story for visiting Portland in Houston, where the Trail Blazers edged the Rockets 122-120 in overtime to open their series.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 46 points -- a Blazers franchise record for a playoff game -- and pulled down 18 rebounds before he fouled out in overtime.
Damian Lillard added 31 points with nine rebounds and five assists, draining two free throws with 17 seconds left in the extra period to give Portland a 121-120 lead.
James Harden then missed a three-pointer and Rockets center Dwight Howard was called for a loose-ball foul on Joel Freeland.
Freeland missed his first free-throw but made the second to make it 122-120 for Portland.
Harden had a last chance for the Rockets, but his awkward jump shot as time expired bounced off the back of the rim.
Harden and Howard scored 27 points apiece for the Rockets, but Harden was also off-target with a turnaround jump shot as time expired in regulation, which finished with score knotted at 106-106.
Houston scored the first six points of overtime, but Portland responded with back-to-back three-pointers from Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. Wesley Matthews then made two free-throws to give the Trail Blazers their first lead since the second quarter.
"I thought the game had a lot of ebb and flow to it," said Portland coach Terry Stotts.
"We knew we had to win at least one here, and so we've done that. We're not by any means satisfied, we've got a lot of work cut out for us. But we knew we had to win at least one here. We put ourselves in a position to win -- we were able to eke it out," Stotts said.
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