DALLAS (AP) – Erick Dampier never messed with Tony Parker. He didn’t have to.

Instead of delivering his guaranteed hard foul, Dampier and the Dallas Mavericks slapped around the San Antonio Spurs with tight defense, the return of Dirk Nowitzki’s shooting touch and the energy of their home crowd, turning it into an 88-67 victory Thursday night and a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.

Dampier drew the scrutiny of the league office for saying he would pop Parker on his first drive of this game. Dampier ended up going the whole game without colliding with Parker – although he did swat away a shot during a frenzied first-half defensive performance by the Mavericks.

San Antonio finished with its fewest points in a playoff game, while it was the fewest Dallas ever allowed in the postseason. Dallas allowed only 30 points in the first two quarters, then a series of jumpers by Nowitzki to start the third quarter was all Spurs coach Gregg Popovich needed to see. Having seen a 16-point halftime deficit swell to 26, Popovich pulled Parker, Tim Duncan and the rest of his starters with 7:53 left in the third quarter to save them for Game 4 on Saturday.

The Mavericks improved to 16-1 at home since the All-Star break, and to 7-1 in games following 20-point losses.

The rest of their numbers were relatively ordinary because of how quickly Popovich waved the white flag of surrender. Nowitzki had 20 points and seven rebounds, hitting the bench for good once Dallas’ lead reached 30. Josh Howard had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Dampier had two points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

J.J. Barea had 13 points and seven assists in his first career playoff start and Jason Kidd had six assists and eight rebounds. Kidd’s only points came on a 3-pointer that was immediately followed by Popovich’s give-up move.

Parker was San Antonio’s leading scorer with just 12 points – down from 38 the previous game. He made only five of 14 shots, with as many turnovers (three) as assists. Duncan had four points on 2-of-9 shooting, with as many fouls (two) as rebounds.

Feeding off a crowd of 20,491 that was chanting “Let’s Go Mavs!” long before tipoff, Dallas pestered San Antonio into missing its first five shots, and turned the first four into quick baskets, sparking fans to scream even louder. They really went bonkers when Dampier blocked Parker’s shot and Barea followed with a 3-pointer, putting Dallas up by 12 when the game was only 6 minutes old.

The Spurs struggled to find anything that would work.

They often took shots late in the shot clock, and those were rarely good. They had six passes stolen – some were so off the mark you would’ve thought they were intentionally thrown to the Mavericks – and had five shots blocked. They scored only 30 points the entire half; if not for a buzzer-beater by George Hill, San Antonio would’ve matched its worst half in a playoff game.

And that was the Spurs’ good half.

San Antonio opened the third quarter by missing four of its first five shots, while Dallas couldn’t miss. Soon after Duncan threw away about a 3-foot pass to Roger Mason, the Spurs started emptying their bench.

The backups weren’t any better, even against Dallas’ deep reserves.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.