The Dallas Mavericks won their first playoff series since 2006 by eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in five games with a 106-93 win on Tuesday.
Dallas Mavericks' Erick Dampier (right) shoots over San Antonio Spurs defender Matt Bonner (center) as Spurs guard Tony Parker (9), of France, looks on during the second quarter of Game 5 of a first-round Western Conference NBA playoff basketball game in San Antonio on Tuesday. [AP]
Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points for Dallas who advanced to the NBA's second round to play either Denver or New Orleans. The Nuggets lead that series 3-1 and can finish off the Hornets on Wednesday at Denver.
"It was a tough series," said Dallas Jason Terry, who scored 19 points. "Obviously our bitter rival, but I think everybody came to play."
In the other West contest, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge each scored 25 points, and the Portland Trail Blazers staved off elimination in the playoffs with an 88-77 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
It is the first time San Antonio has lost in the opening round since 2000, one year after the Spurs won their first of four NBA titles.
Tim Duncan had 30 and Tony Parker had 26 but once again got little help from the rest of the starters.
"They are a better team than we are," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They made shots. They made more big shots.
"They stopped the runs and then had a little bit run of their own. That's why they won the series 4-1."
San Antonio lumbers into the postseason facing questions about where the NBA's winningest over the last decade goes next.
Injuries played their part, from Duncan's creaky 33-year-old knees to Manu Ginobili playing just 44 games and missing the playoffs because of bad ankles.
France's Parker dismissed critics who say the Spurs winning ways are over.
"We just have to make a couple of changes," Parker said. "With a healthy Manu Ginobili and with couple changes in our role players we will be right back to try and get another run."
Getting to the West semi-finals is a dramatic turn for the Mavericks, who were a borderline playoff team as late as March and got a public lashing from owner Mark Cuban after a listless loss to woeful Oklahoma City.
Dallas won seven of nine entering the playoffs, and has now won 11 of its last 14.
The Rockets, who have not advanced out of the first round of the playoffs in six tries since 1997, hold a 3-2 advantage in the series going into Thursday's game back in Houston.
Luis Scola led the Rockets with 21 points. Yao Ming had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Roy, a two-time all-star and Portland's leading scorer, missed practice on Monday because of flu-like symptoms, while Aldridge didn't practice because of a sore right elbow. Both started on Tuesday.
In the East contest, Chicago and Boston needed another overtime to settle a score and Orlando turned in a dominating performance in a pair of game five playoff contests.
Paul Pierce made three consecutive jump shots in the closing minutes of overtime and the Celtics held on to beat the Bulls 106-104 to seize a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series.
It was the third time in five games the teams have needed overtime.
Rajon Rondo scored 28 points with 11 assists and eight rebounds, and Kendrick Perkins had 16 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks for the defending champion Celtics.
Ben Gordon scored 26 and Joakim Noah had 11 points and 17 rebounds for Chicago.
The Bulls return home for game six on Thursday hoping to extend the series to a deciding game.
In the other East contest, Dwight Howard had 24 points and a career playoff-high 24 rebounds, a dominating performance that powered the Magic to a 91-78 victory over the Sixers and gave Orlando a 3-2 series lead.
Rashard Lewis snapped out of his playoff slump with a series-high 24 points, and Rafer Alston scored 14 for the Magic.
It was Howard's fourth career playoff game with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. Andre Iguodala scored 26 points and led a second-half charge that fizzled fast, and Andre Miller added 17 points for Philadelphia.
(Agencies via China Daily April 30, 2009)