Mavs Say Hello to Another First-Round Exit

By PAUL J. WEBER
|  Friday, Apr 30, 2010  |  Updated 3:16 PM CDT
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Meet Your 2010 Dallas Mavericks

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Forward Dirk Nowitzki falls on the floor after being fouled during a 97-87 loss against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

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The Spurs moved on, and Dallas is done early again.

Manu Ginobili scored 26 points and San Antonio survived blowing a 22-point lead to beat the Mavericks 97-87 in Game 6 on Thursday night, handing Dirk Nowitzki and second-seeded Dallas another first-round exit.

The Spurs got payback after the Mavs eliminated them a year ago, and will play either Phoenix or Portland in the Western Conference semifinals.

"For us there was no tomorrow," Ginobili said after the Spurs finished off the Mavs in front of a raucous home crowd and avoided going back to Dallas for a Game 7.

Nowitzki nearly carried the Mavs to an unbelievable comeback, getting 25 of his 33 points in a remarkable second half. But the Mavs still stumbled to their third first-round exit in the last four years.

George Hill had 21 points for the Spurs, who are coming off their worst regular season in the Tim Duncan era -- making this series all the more impressive.

It will technically go down as an upset. San Antonio is only the fifth No. 7 seed to win a first-round series, and the first since the opening round became a best-of-7 in 2003. It hadn't been done since New York beat Miami in 1998.

But with a healthy Big Three and a championship pedigree, the Spurs could hardly be called underdogs. And with no clear favorite in the West, they might be as good a finals pick as any.

As for the Mavs, it was yet another early playoff disappointment.

It comes three years after the Mavs came into the postseason as the No. 1 seed, only to be knocked out by No. 8 Golden State. The Mavs were the NBA's best road team in the regular season, but went 0-3 in San Antonio and couldn't pull themselves out of a 3-1 deficit.

This one is especially tough for team owner Mark Cuban, who plunked down an extra $30 million for a deal at the trade deadline that brought Caron Butler from Washington.

Butler scored 25 points and rookie Rodrigue Beaubois had 16 points. But aside from them and Nowitzki, no other Dallas player scored more than six points.

Now comes an interesting offseason for a team that's won 50 games for 10 straight seasons, but has only one trip to the NBA finals to show for it.

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