San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) - Josh Howard scored 25 points and the Mavericks rallied from a 13-point deficit to upend the San Antonio Spurs, 105-97, in the opener of their Western Conference quarterfinal series, snapping a big road postseason skid in the process.
Dirk Nowitzki added 19 points and eight rebounds, while Erick Dampier contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Mavericks, who dominated to the tune of a 39-14 difference in bench points. Brandon Bass had 14 points, Jose Barea 13 and Jason Terry 12 in reserve roles for the Mavs.
Dallas had lost nine straight road playoff games, going back to its collapse in the 2006 NBA Finals against Miami.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven set is slated for Monday night in San Antonio.
"It's been a difficult year, it's been a trying year. We're a humble team, but we're hungry," said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. "We're going to keep battling. We know San Antonio is going to battle back hard and we know this is going to be a long series."
The Spurs were able to win the Southwest Division on the final day of the regular season, but got off to a rocky start in their attempt to win the NBA title for a fourth time in seven years.
San Antonio was outscored 31-23 in the last quarter, and clearly struggled down the stretch without star swingman Manu Ginobili, the 2008-08 Sixth Man of the Year who is out for the playoffs with a stress fracture in his leg.
Barea scored seven of his points in the final quarter, and the Spurs failed to get any contribution from their bench, with just one free throw from Ime Udoka in the second half.
The Spurs shot 11-of-14 from three-point range with Michael Finley accounting for a 5-for-5 performance, leading to 19 total points. Roger Mason made four shots from beyond the arc, including one to begin the fourth quarter, boosting the hosts to a 77-74 edge.
Dallas responded with a 12-3 run to take the lead for good. Antoine Wright gave the visitors the lead with a three-point play and ended the flurry with a three-pointer around the eight-minute mark.
Barea made his presence felt by completing a three-point play and added jumper for a 93-83 cushion. Dampier's tip-in pushed the margin to 12 with under five minutes left, and the Spurs never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
"They're a good offensive team and once they start scoring offensively their confidence goes up," said Finley. "In the second half, they scored off a lot of our defensive mistakes."
Nowitzki had a pair of offensive fouls in the first quarter and picked up his third personal with nearly 8 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half. Wright also picked up three fouls in the first 24 minutes.
Bruce Bowen's three-pointer from the left corner expanded San Antonio's lead to 24-16, and Mason drilled a three with 8.8 seconds remaining in the opening quarter for a 29-18 cushion after one stanza.
The Mavs were behind 33-24 at the time of Nowitzki's third personal, and a layup from Drew Gooden expanded the margin to 13 less than two minutes later.
Dallas cut into the difference just before the end of the half. Howard scored the team's final six points, the last two on free throws after San Antonio's second turnover of the half, a bad pass from Parker that led to a steal. The two shots from the charity stripe trimmed Dallas' deficit to 49-45.
Parker's layup tied the game at 61 close to midway through the third, but Howard canned a three-pointer to begin an 11-2 Dallas push, with Dampier's layup capping the burst.
The Spurs charged right back, thanks mostly to clutch shots from Duncan, who netted eight points over the final three minutes of the period, tying the game on a bank shot with 23.6 seconds left. The teams went into the fourth quarter even at 74.
Dallas and San Antonio are meeting for the fourth time in the postseason and for the first time in the opening round...Dallas' last road playoff win came June 3, 2006, a Game 6...Duncan ended 13-of-24 from the field...Mason had 13 points...Dallas shot 58.5 percent in the second half, compared to 44.7 for San Antonio.