for this game

Warriors push Mavericks to brink of elimination

Apr 30, 2007 - 7:57 AM OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks are still No. 1 - one loss from enduring a stunning first-round playoff exit.

Baron Davis scored 33 points and the Golden State Warriors stormed back to jolt the top-seeded Mavericks, 103-99, to take a 3-1 lead and push Dallas to the brink of elimination.

Jason Richardson added 22 points as the Warriors moved one win away from becoming the first No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 in a best-of-seven series.

Davis hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to forge a 49-49 halftime tie, and had two key assists in the final minutes to help the Warriors move closer to becoming only the third No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1. The 1994 Denver Nuggets and the 1999 New York Knicks accomplished the feat in the old best-of-five format.

"As long as we believe in ourselves, we will be alright. Knowing we were up 2-1 we had some gloss in our eyes," Davis said.

"We were a little rattled in the beginning, and coach just told me to be dominant. I felt like I could carry the load in the 1st half. In the 2nd half they doubled teamed me a lot and I just had to be patient with my teammates. We were able to force them to take shots late in the shot clock."

After being blown out by Golden State, 109-91, in Game Three, the Mavericks appeared ready to reclaim home-court advantage in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter.

Jerry Stackhouse banked in a shot clock-beating 3-pointer and followed it with another jumper to give Dallas an 88-81 lead with 7:21 to play.

Instead of folding, the Warriors held the Mavs to one field goal in the next 6 1/2 minutes and rattled off 15 of the next 17 points.

I don't think we played our best possible basketball that we can play," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said.

"We had 19 turnovers that they turned into 33 points. We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. We mixed up our defense and had good phases but we got jump shot happy towards the end."

After two free throws from Steven Jackson and a 3-pointer from Richardson, Davis hit Jackson for an open 3-pointer, then made a driving layup in traffic to tie the game at 90-90 with 2:35 left.

After Stackhouse airballed a 3-pointer and Andris Biedrins dunked on another pass from Davis, the Mavericks fell apart with a turnover and a traveling violation before Davis coolly drilled a 20-footer with 57 seconds left to give the Warriors a 96-90 lead.

"We kept our composure, but they hit a whole bunch of big shots," said Jackson, who scored 19. "I think a lot of people expected us to die after Stackhouse shot that three at the buzzer off the backboard, but we kept fighting. We kept our heads up and we were able to hit some big shots down the stretch."

Jason Terry finally slowed the surge with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 96-93, but Matt Barnes answered from the arc to make it 99-93 with 23 ticks left.

Dallas superstar Dirk Nowitzki gave his team a pulse by burying two long 3-pointers - his first of the series - 11 seconds apart to pull the Mavericks within 101-99 with 3.9 to play. However, it was too little too late and now the Mavericks must focus on the next game.

"The only thing we are thinking about right now is winning our home game," Johnson said.

"Our home crowd is going to be in a frenzy and they're going to be really excited about the game. We have to win the 1st, 2nd,3rd, and 4th quarter and hopefully end up with more points than them at the end of the game in front of our fans that have been loyal to us all year."

Meanwhile Golden State coach Don Nelson was happy with the win, but expects Dallas to come out strong in Game Five.

"I was very proud to be a part of this game tonight either way, win or lose. I know everyone thinks we are in control but we don't feel that way. We expect a long series. We feel good about our position and we have a great deal of respect for the Dallas Mavericks with what they did this year. If any team can come back from this, it's them. All I told Baron was to be dominant and he is now proving how great I said he is."

After Davis split two free throws with 3.2 seconds left, the Mavs a chance at a tying 3-pointer, but Mickael Pietrus picked off the inbound pass at half-court to seal it.

"In game one he got hot and really stole the game by himself," Nowitzki said. "Today again he was phenomenal, making plays, making the shot from half court, making big plays and he's proven he's obviously more than a handful and a big reason the Warriors are up 3-1."

Davis finished 12-of-17 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from the arc for the Warriors, who won despite getting hammered on the boards, 49-33.

The game was tight throughout. Dallas, behind 14 points from Josh Howard, held a 27-21 lead after the first quarter, but Pietrus came off the bench to score 10 in the second quarter and Davis hit a buzzer-beater from mid-court to help forge a 49-49 tie at halftime.

The Mavericks opened some daylight in the third quarter, using a 9-0 run to take a 70-61 lead but Davis rallied the Warriors, scoring seven points in the final 1:14 to make it 77-77 heading into the final 12 minutes.

Stackhouse scored 24 points, Nowitzki added 23 and 15 rebounds and Howard had 22 and 12 for the Mavericks, which looks to stay alive when the series returns to Dallas for Game Five on Tuesday.