Mavericks 92, Spurs 86

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SAN ANTONIO – Dirk Nowitzki scored 30 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks over the San Antonio Spurs 92-86 in a showdown of the top two teams in the Western Conference on Friday night.

The Mavericks (57-19) cut the Spurs’ lead to one game in the Southwest Division with both teams having six games left to play.

At stake is the top seed in the Western Conference with the team that finishes second getting the No. 4 seed. The Mavericks and Spurs split the season series, which is the first tiebreaker.

Dallas has a half-game lead in the second tiebreaker, which is won-loss record in the Southwest Division.

Josh Howard scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half for the Mavericks.

Manu Ginobili led San Antonio (58-18) with 22 points.

The Mavericks limited Tim Duncan to 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting in 38 minutes. Tony Parker, the Spurs leading scorer this season, had 10 points and three assists in 31 minutes.

Dallas shot 51 percent from the field and held San Antonio to just 38 percent shooting.

The Spurs led by 11 points midway through the second quarter. But the Mavericks erased that deficit to even the score in the final two minutes of the half.

Dallas jumped out to a 63-59 lead 5:52 into the second half. Nowitzki scored 12 points in the third quarter, going 5-for-6 from the field and added two free throws.

The Mavericks led 71-65 at the end of the third quarter. The teams traded baskets for most of the fourth quarter with the Spurs cutting the lead to three when Parker scored on a drive with 1:42 left in the game. But the Mavericks kept the Spurs scoreless the rest of the way when Ginobili and Bruce Bowen missed shots and Duncan was called for traveling.

Just as they had in their previous meeting 36 days earlier when the Mavericks pulled out to a quick lead, Dallas gained an early advantage again when Howard scored 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting in the first quarter.

With Howard on the bench for the opening 6:39 of the second quarter and Nowitzki struggling with his shot – he missed 7 of 9 shots to start the game – San Antonio went on a 14-2 run to built an 11-point lead.

Notes: Spurs forward Robert Horry, who scored 12 points in 18 minutes in the previous meeting between the teams, missed Friday’s game due to a death in the family. … San Antonio also missed a chance to cut into Detroit’s lead for the best record in the league. The Pistons lost 89-87 at Orlando on Friday, which keeps them three games ahead of San Antonio for the top record.

AP-ES-04-07-06 2306EDT

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