Mavericks Eliminate Jazz
Michael Finley scored 33 points as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Utah Jazz, 84-83, Thursday night in the decisive fifth game of their first-round playoff series.
Calvin Booth got free for a layup over Donyell Marshall with 9.8 seconds remaining, giving the Mavericks an 84-83 lead, the first time Dallas went ahead since two minutes into the game.
The Mavericks ran an isolation play for Finley, who seemed ready to work his 6-foot-7 advantage over the smaller and slower John Stockton. But Finley saw Booth open underneath and flipped it inside.
“We got down 14, but the coaching staff said to keep pushing and that is what we did,” Finley said. “We never gave up.”
The Jazz called a timeout and set up a final play. Bryon Russell inbounded to Stockton, who drove and kicked it over to Russell on the right wing. He missed a three-point shot with 4.3 seconds to go, but Stockton corralled the rebound and passed to Karl Malone, who missed an open jumper from the top of the key.
“We kept our composure,” Maverick guard Steve Nash said. “A lot of times we could have folded, but we hung in there, and now we’re going on.”
It was the first time Dallas won a postseason series since the 1988 Western Conference semifinals. And it was Utah’s first loss in the opening round since 1995 against Houston.
Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points for Dallas, the sixth team in NBA history to win a five-game series after trailing 0-2 and the first since Denver in 1994.
“We showed some character and hung in there,” he said. “We did it the whole year and we knew we would come back. If we struggled, we just played through it and worked through it.”
The Mavericks rallied from second-half deficits of 13 and 20 points in the first two games of the series, both homecourt victories for Utah.
This time, Dallas trailed, 46-31, 1:01 before halftime and 71-57 after the third quarter. But the Mavericks came back again, trimming the deficit to 77-76 with a 15-2 run over a span of 4:13 in the fourth.
“At halftime, we just said ‘Stay positive, and we did all the way,’ ” Nash said.