Nearly standing with his heels on the sideline, guard Vince Carter sank a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the feisty, eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks a 109-108 victory over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs on Saturday and an unlikely 2-1 lead in the NBA first-round playoff series.
It was another remarkable game played by the two longtime Texas rivals. Only moments earlier, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili delivered what looked like would be the winner, spinning home an awkward leaner over Dallas center Sam Dalembert with 1.7 seconds left.
Dallas called a timeout and designed a play. With guard Monta Ellis and forward Dirk Nowitzki bottled up, Carter broke free in the corner. He pump-faked and then let it go over Ginobili. The fallaway hit nothing but the bottom of the net and the sold-out American Airlines Center, deflated seconds earlier, exploded with excitement.
"Any pump-fake was going to have to be quick. It was a great catch and Jose (Calderon) did a great job of getting him the ball because Ginobili was denying it," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "The execution of the shot was great, obviously.
"Vince really deserves it. He's been so good for us and he's been about so many of the right things. You always hope a guy like that can have a moment like this in a big playoff game, so I'm really happy for him and we survived it."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the final play: "Vince made a nice shot. Manu guarded him, he did it well and Vince made a nice shot. Give him credit. There was no breakdown or anything like that. Manu was right there and he did everything he could. Vince knocked it down."
The Mavs, who had lost nine regular-season games to the Spurs, have now won two of three in the heated playoff series and could further stun a Spurs team that won 62 games in the regular season in Game 4 on Monday night in Dallas.
"It is a very disappointing loss," Ginobili said. "Not because we had a five-point lead. Games like this that are so close and so tight, most of the times it gets to the last play and sometimes it's like flipping a coin. He made a great shot and they got the win, so of course it is disappointing."
Dallas continued to frustrate the Spurs, who led 100-95 with 2:11 to go, with their switching defense while getting help throughout the lineup offensively.
Nowitzki finished with 18 points but again was not the Mavs' primary scorer. That was Ellis, who delivered 29 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Calderon had another strong game with 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field.
"I think every game right now has been different," Calderon said. "It looks like we saw six different teams out there. Everybody is trying to get the other team to make mistakes and that is what we do as well. But it is fun. Every game has something going on in the last minute or last 30 seconds and it has been fun."
Carter, the hero who has had all kinds of trouble just getting 3-point looks in the series -- he was 1-for-3 in the first two games -- finished with 11 points on 3-for-8 shooting overall. The winning 3-pointer was his lone 3 of the game on three attempts.
The Spurs are relying heavily on point guard Tony Parker, who had 19 points and six assists, and forward Tim Duncan, who scored 22 points a day after turning 38. Forward Kawhi Leonard stepped up with 17 points and five steals and Ginobili finished with 12.PACERS 91 HAWKS 88
Indiana guard Paul George scored 24 points and point guard George Hill had his best game of the series in a 91-88 victory at Philips Arena.
The first-round playoff series is tied 2-2 and heads back to Indiana for Game 5 on Monday.
"It's one of those games where you have to do whatever it takes to win," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "You have to find a way to squeeze out a win."
Hill, like the rest of the Pacers, has struggled in the series, but he scored 15 points Saturday, including the last basket of the game on a driving layup that put Indiana up three with 56 seconds to play.
Hill also hit one of Indiana's three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, right after a 3-pointer from Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague had put the Hawks up five with 4:36 to play.
A game after tying a franchise playoff record for 3-pointers, the Hawks hit 11 more Saturday. But they needed one more and failed to convert on their final three possessions. They went the final four and a half minutes without a field goal.
HEAT 98 BOBCATS 85
Forward LeBron James scored 30 points, and the Miami Heat rolled over the Charlotte Bobcats 98-85 on Saturday night to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
The two-time defending NBA champions took control with a 16-4 run to end the first half for a 58-46 halftime lead, then opened the second half with a 21-7 spurt to push the lead to 79-53. Charlotte made a late run to whittle the final margin down some but never seriously threatened. James, who scored a career-high 61 points in his last visit to Time Warner Cable Arena in March, was 10-for-18 from the field and nine of 10 from the line. He also had 10 rebounds and six assists.
The Heat also got 17 points from guard Dwyane Wade and 12 from forward Chris Andersen.
Center Al Jefferson led the Bobcats with 20, but scored only five in the final three quarters. Forward Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 17, and guard Kemba Walker and forward Josh McRoberts scored 13 apiece.