NBA playoffs: Spurs hold off Mavericks
SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs already were struggling with the Dallas Mavericks when Hall of Fame-bound forward Tim Duncan limped off the court in the third quarter with a bad knee.
But Duncan, after resting for several minutes, returned to the game, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter as the Spurs defeated the Mavericks 90-85 Sunday afternoon in the opening game of their Western Conference playoffs series.
San Antonio used a 15-0 push to erase a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and gained its 10th straight win against Dallas.
The Mavs missed 12 straight shots down the stretch, scoring just four points — two on free throws — during the final 7:45.“They missed some easy shots; we played some good defense,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.Duncan finished with 27 points. He left the game with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter after a knee-to-knee collision with Dallas guard Monta Ellis. The Spurs trailed by two at the time.For Duncan, it was the left knee, the one that was surgically repaired in 2000.Even so, Duncan said he knew the issue with his knee was not serious.“My leg just kind of went numb,” Duncan said. “I knew I needed a couple of minutes for the feeling to come back.”He returned with 9:26 left in the game. The 6-foot-11 Duncan found room to maneuver around the basket because Dallas was concerned with guarding the 3-point line. The Spurs had made 42 3-point baskets while sweeping four games from the Mavs during the regular season. On Sunday the Spurs hit just three of 17 3-pointers.“We got killed on threes the first four outings this year,” Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “There was no secret that we stayed a little more home on the 3-point shooters (Sunday). You have to give them something.”Heat 99, Bobcats 88MIAMI — The Charlotte Bobcats couldn’t beat the Miami Heat over the past four years in the regular season.The first playoff meeting between the two teams ended with the same result.Heat forward LeBron James finished with 27 points and nine rebounds, and a rested guard Dwyane Wade finished with 23 points and five assists to lead the Heat to a 99-88 victory over the Bobcats on Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat have a 1-0 lead in its Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Bobcats.“We were flat to start, but I think our guys were just anxious to get started, to finally start the postseason games,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We started to get more into our groove at the end of the first quarter. We were making a sustained effort and it was better.”Wade, who missed 28 games this season and had averaged 22 minutes in his final three regular season games, played 33 minutes Sunday and helped the Heat overcome an early second-half deficit to win their 17th consecutive game against the Bobcats.“Besides starting off a little slow in the first and third [quarters], I thought we played a pretty good game,” Wade said. “I didn’t have to think too much. I was just playing, making the reads.“It is just a sign of feeling good. I want to continue to get better and get my conditioning back to where I want it to be.”Wizards 102, Bulls 93Nene Hilario led the way with 24 points and eight rebounds as visiting Washington came through down the stretch and knocked off Chicago in Game 1 of the first-round Eastern Conference series.Trevor Ariza scored 18 points and Marcin Gortat collected 15 points and 13 rebounds for the fifth-seeded Wizards, who visit the Bulls for Game 2 on Tuesday. John Wall scored 16 points and Bradley Beal added 13 points and seven assists for Washington.D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich scored 16 points apiece to lead Chicago, which was outscored 30-18 in the fourth quarter. Jimmy Butler scored 15 points, Taj Gibson added 12 and Joakim Noah recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls.