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Dallas to play again without Nowitzki

May 27, 2003 at 2:52 PM   |   Comments

SAN ANTONIO, May 27 (UPI) -- The San Antonio Spurs hope to advance to the NBA Finals when they face Dallas Tuesday night in Game Five of their Western Conference playoff series.

The Spurs, who won the NBA title in the lockout-abbreviated 1999 season, moved within one win of meeting the New Jersey Nets, the Eastern Conference champions, with a 102-95 win in Game Four on Sunday at Dallas.

NBA MVP Tim Duncan has had a huge series for the Spurs, averaging 31.8 points, 18.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 3.5 blocked shots per contest while making 61 percent of his shots.

Tony Parker scored 25 points, rookie Manu Ginobili added a playoff season-high 21, and Tim Duncan contributed 21, 20 rebounds, and seven assists for the Spurs, which has won three straight games since losing Game One.

Parker came up big in the third quarter for the second straight game, scoring 11 points as the Spurs ended the period on a 22-6 run to turn a nine-point deficit into a 77-70 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.

Dallas got no closer than two points in the fourth quarter.

Steve Nash and Michael Finley scored 25 points, and Nick Van Exel added 22 for Dallas, which was without the services of leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki, who sprained his left knee colliding with Ginobili in the fourth quarter of Game Three.

Because of the absences of big men Shawn Bradley and Evan Eschmeyer, both out with knee injuries, the Mavericks used mostly smaller, perimeter-based players and launched 31 three-pointers, making 12.

The Mavericks have attempted just 19 free throws over the last two games after shooting 50, making the final 49, in Game One.

Nowitzki was to be a game-time decision, but Coach Don Nelson said after a shootaround on Tuesday morning that Nowitzki had been ruled out for Game Five.

The Mavericks did not want to risk further injury to the All-Star 7-foot forward.

"Nellie told me if it's not right, he wasn't going to play me," Nowitzki told the Dallas Morning-News. "And looking back, he was 100 percent right. He's concerned about my health and my body for the future."

"We've just got to go hard for 48 minutes Tuesday, and see what it gets us," said guard Nick Van Exel. "Our energy and intensity has been great in the first half, but somehow we have to maintain it."

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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