Final Score: Dallas 113, San Antonio 111
Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The eighth-seeded Mavericks may not knock off the San Antonio Spurs in their first-round Western Conference series, but they are certainly making the team with the best record in the NBA sweat.
Monta Ellis led a fourth-quarter surge and finished with 27 points Friday as Dallas forced a winner-take-all Game 7 in San Antonio with a hard-fought 113-111 victory.
Ellis scored 12 of his 29 points in crunch time, but nearly wiped it all away when he threw an ill-advised pass out of bounds with 1.3 seconds remaining to give the Spurs one final look.
Patty Mills' off-balanced shot at the buzzer was well short and came after the clock struck zero, meaning these two postseason mainstays will meet again Sunday with a trip to the second round on the line.
"You play the whole season to have a Game 7 at home," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "Hopefully we can play with better energy."
Dirk Nowitzki chimed in with 22 points and Dallas' deep supporting cast came up with big plays down the stretch, notably former Spur DeJuan Blair.
Parker netted 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Spurs, who led 81-76 entering the fourth and appeared in control before the Mavs rattled off nine straight points midway through the frame.
Ellis hit a go-ahead 3-pointer during the run and Blair, who was suspended for Game 5 after kicking Tiago Splitter in the head the previous game, capped it with a three-point play for a 97-92 Mavericks lead with 4:25 to play.
After Manu Ginobili, who shot just 1-of-8 from the floor, sank two free throws, Ellis answered with a pair of identical floaters in the lane to extend Dallas' lead.
"My teammates just told me to be aggressive," Ellis said. "My team just believed in me, and I just had to go out there and respond."
Ellis was fouled by Ginobili on his first drive to the basket and made the free throw, then used a pick on the left wing en route to a rainbow over Tim Duncan for a 102-94 advantage with under three minutes to play.
Parker kept the Spurs in striking distance with baskets on three consecutive possessions, the last a layup off a crisp spin move in traffic to pull within 106-105 with 49.9 seconds on the clock.
Vince Carter made it a three-point game with two free throws, and Blair picked off a Parker pass intended for Duncan under the basket, forcing the Spurs to foul the rest of the way.
Dallas made 5-of-8 free throws and hung on despite Ellis' head-scratching turnover in the closing seconds.
Both teams shot 56 percent from the field in the first quarter and got whatever they wanted offensively, but the Mavs hustled for eight second-chance points to none for the Spurs en route to a 34-26 lead heading to the second.
Dallas was ahead the rest of the half, the biggest cushion coming at 39-28 after Jae Crowder beat the shot clock with a long 3-pointer two minutes into the second quarter.
Devin Harris' late three-point play sent the hosts into halftime with a 58-52 advantage, but the third quarter went back-and-forth after the Spurs opened the stanza with an 11-4 run that gave them their first lead since it was 10-9.
Five of the six in the series have been decided by six points or less ... The Mavs are 0-7 all-time in series when trailing 3-2 and had previously only forced a Game 7 once when facing that deficit ... Blair finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds ... Splitter totaled 19 points and eight boards, while Duncan had 16 and nine for the Spurs ... Danny Green netted 17 points on 7- of-7 shooting in defeat.