for this game

After blowout loss, Spurs try to even series in Dallas

Apr 25, 2009 - 1:30 AM By Stephen Hawkins AP Sports Writer

San Antonio at Dallas, Western Conference first round, Mavericks lead 2-1, 4:00 p.m. EDT

DALLAS (AP) -- Rick Carlisle remembers one of the most infamous NBA playoff blowouts -- and what happened after it.

Within minutes of Dallas taking a 2-1 series lead against San Antonio with a surprisingly lopsided victory, the Mavericks coach and former Boston backup guard invoked the 1985 NBA finals in which the Celtics opened with a rout of the Lakers but lost the series in six games.

Carlisle's message was the same in practice Friday, a day after Dallas led by as many as 36 points and held San Antonio to a franchise playoff scoring low in an 88-67 victory.

"I don't think you need to tell stories, but the point has got to be made that it's sitting there staring both teams in the face," Carlisle said. "When either team has won, their next game has been abysmal. That's the challenge for us because we know what kind of game they're going to bring."

The Spurs conceded a game, not the series.

"It was disappointing, surprising, especially with the standard we set here," San Antonio defensive ace Bruce Bowen said. "This team has no choice (but to bounce back). We're disappointed we came out with the effort that we did. ... That's incentive enough."

With the Mavs up by 26 early in the third quarter, and a short turnaround to Game 4 on Saturday afternoon, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the other San Antonio starters went to the bench for good.

"We pulled the plug for that purpose," coach Gregg Popovich said. "I'm sure a lot of people were shocked, like, 'Hey, you can't not try.' It's not about that. It's a long process, and I think we have to hopefully try to be wise rather than foolishly brave."

In Carlisle's rookie season, the Celtics beat the Lakers, 148-114, in Game 1 of the 1985 finals. But Los Angeles followed that Memorial Day embarrassment by winning the next two games and turning the series in its favor.

It's proof that things can turn around quickly, and they already have in this series.

The Spurs fell flat in the fourth quarter of a Game 1 loss at home, then made up for it with a 21-point victory to even the series. Then they were so bad in Game 3 that Popovich didn't even consider it a tough loss.

"A tough loss to me is both teams play their (tails) off and somebody makes a shot with 1 second left that's contested or something. That's a tough loss," Popovich said. "(Thursday) was more of an embarrassing kind of loss where the other team dominated from the get-go and threw a punch and you never responded to."

Dallas scored the first eight points and led 46-30 at halftime.

San Antonio shot only 32 percent (25-of-78) and was 2-of-17 from 3-point range after shooting 50 percent overall the first two games. Parker, who scored 38 points in Game 2, had only 12 this time -- and that led the team. Duncan's four points and two rebounds were his fewest in a playoff game.

"You know they're going to be better. Pop's probably chewing them out," Dirk Nowitzki said. "It was a little too easier than we hoped."

Bowen says the Spurs disrespected a franchise that has won four NBA titles since 1999. The defensive stalwart is tied for third with Parker on the franchise list for career playoff games with 120. He said Thursday night's loss was "the worst because of all the things that you built here."

The Spurs also want to even the series before Game 5 in San Antonio on Tuesday night.

At least their starters got an extended break, with Parker's 21 minutes the most for the top five in Game 3. Combined with early foul trouble and the lopsided score, Duncan got a break for his sore knees by playing only 15 minutes.

"That's like going through a shootaround almost. It's nothing for him," Carlisle said.

Mavericks guard Jason Terry was presented the NBA's sixth man award Friday, getting the prize won last season by San Antonio's Manu Ginobili.

But the Spurs are without Ginobili in the playoffs because of his right ankle injury. With that, and Duncan still sore, Parker knows he has to bounce back quickly from his bad game.

"We have no choice," Parker said. "I'll be very aggressive. I'll be right back at it. ... They're going to come harder because they know how important it is to go up 3-1 and we know how important it is to try to even the series."