Even with a broken and bloody nose, Manu Ginobili wasn’t letting the Dallas Mavericks get ahead in this playoff series.
Playing with a bandage across his nose after getting popped by Dirk Nowitzki’s elbow, Ginobili returned to the game and helped the Spurs hold on in a wild fourth quarter for a 94-90 win over Dallas last night in San Antonio.
Ginobili scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. He was diagnosed after the game with a nasal fracture, and the Spurs said Ginobili would undergo a CT scan today.
“If Dirk or Jason Kidd get hurt, people like that who are ultimate competitors, they play unless they can’t do it,’’ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s what [Manu] did.’’
The Spurs took a 2-1 lead by surviving the NBA’s best road team, and Nowitzki torching the Spurs for 35 points after a shaky Game 2.
Game 4 is in San Antonio tomorrow, which is also Duncan’s 34th birthday. But so far he’s looked practically ageless. He scored 25 points for the second straight game, and has the Spurs in position to possibly celebrate a commanding lead in this series if they can win on his birthday.
The Mavericks will spend between now and then trying to figure out how to even this series. A start might be figuring out what happened to Nowitzki’s supporting cast.
Jason Terry scored 17 points and J.J. Barea had 14, but Caron Butler never left the bench in the second half and finished with 2 points.
Nowitzki made good on his vow to make the baskets he missed in Game 2. He shot 13 of 23 from the field and jump-started a 17-0 run in the third quarter that got the Mavs back into the game — and a lead for just the second time since Game 1.
The run came when Ginobili was out. Blood dripped from his nose after taking an inadvertent elbow from Nowitzki, who had jumped to take a shot. Ginobili left for the locker room and returned five minutes later.
When he did come back, the Spurs said it was “up to his ability to tolerate the pain.’’
He managed just fine.
Tony Parker had 23 points off the bench while continuing to thrive in the sixth man role that Ginobili held for so many years. He hit a 20-footer to give the Spurs the lead for good with 2:34 left, then made another from the corner the next time down to push the lead to three. That was as close as Dallas would get.
The Mavericks must now lean on their NBA-best road record during the regular season to try and get a split before the series returns to Dallas for Game 5.
Coming off 27 points in the series opener and 25 points in Game 2, Duncan resumed a playoff career of giving the Mavericks fits. He made baseline turnarounds over Erick Dampier, swished jumpers from the perimeter, and capped a 12-0 run in the first with a wide-open dunk.
Jazz 105, Nuggets 93 — Paul Millsap had career highs of 22 points and 19 rebounds, rallying Utah from an 11-point first-quarter deficit in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz lead Denver, 2-1, in the series with Game 4 tomorrow in Utah, where the loud and rowdy fans lived up to their reputation and added to Denver’s miseries with endless taunts.
Utah limited the Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony to 25 points and flustered him into five fouls. Chauncey Billups also scored 25 points, but he and Anthony were the only Denver players to finish in double figures.
Deron Williams finished with 24 points and 10 assists for the Jazz, while Carlos Boozer added 18 points despite missing his first five shots.
Millsap made his first nine shots and finished 11 of 14 from the field for Utah, which dominated the second and third quarters after Denver had its way in the first.