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NBA playoffs: Mavericks 106, Spurs 93

Associated PressSAN ANTONIO ó Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks calmly walked off the floor with little more than some high-fives, as if they’ve done this before in the playoffs.
They have, but it’s been a while.
Nowitzki scored 31 points and the Mavericks won a playoff series for the first time since 2006, eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in five games with a 106-93 victory Tuesday night.
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. San Antonio was the third seed, but throughout the series Dallas clearly looked like the higher-slotted team.
“The Mavs beat the Spurs,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “They’re the best team, and that’s that.”
The Mavericks advance to the Western Conference semifinals to play either Denver or New Orleans.
Tim Duncan scored 30 points and Tony Parker had 26, but they once again got little help. Only twice in the Duncan era have the Spurs been eliminated on their home court, and both have came courtesy of Dallas.”It was a tough series,” said Mavs sixth man Jason Terry, who had 19 points. “Obviously our bitter rival, but I think everybody came to play.”
Getting to the West semifinals 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 pulled together to win seven of nine entering the playoffs and has now won 11 of its last 14.
Josh Howard rang in his 29th birthday with 17 points.
Howard’s biggest gift to the Mavs: a momentum-changing 3-pointer with 4:20 left in the third.

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