SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs have pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to the brink of elimination.
But the three-time champions are proving they won't go away easily — if at all.
One game after overcoming a 16-point deficit, the Lakers nearly erased a 25-point hole before falling 96-94 when Robert Horry's 3-pointer with 3 seconds left went in and out Tuesday night.
David Robinson got the final rebound, letting the Spurs, who never trailed, take a 3-2 lead in the second-round series. San Antonio ruined the return of Lakers coach Phil Jackson three days after undergoing a heart procedure.
The Lakers will have to win the next two games to advance to the Western Conference finals. Otherwise, their postseason will end the same way it did the last time they failed to win it all — going down to San Antonio in the conference semifinals. That was in 1999, when the Spurs won the title.
Game 6 is Thursday night in Los Angeles, with a possible Game 7 in San Antonio on Saturday. The Lakers are 0-5 this season at the Spurs' new home, the SBC Center.
Tim Duncan led San Antonio with 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Tony Parker had 21 points, but they were as cold as all their teammates when it mattered most.
The Spurs were up 76-51 with 3:37 left in the third period and were still ahead 87-71 with 7:21 to play. Then the Lakers used a 15-3 run to get within four, prompting Duncan to slam the ball down while calling a timeout.
A beautiful alley oop from Duncan to David Robinson, who had six points after going scoreless in Game 4, made it 95-88.
But Kobe Bryant, who had 24 of his 36 points in the second half, hit a 3-pointer with 49.1 seconds left. Shaquille O'Neal, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds, turned a miss by Horry into a three-point play with 19.7 to go to make it 95-94.
Stephen Jackson could've made it a three-point lead with 15.1 left, but made only one of two free throws. O'Neal rebounded the second miss and the Lakers called time.
Horry got a wide-open look from the left side. It looked good off his hand, rekindling memories of his amazing game-winning shot against Sacramento in Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals, the last time the Lakers faced elimination.
Unlike that shot, this one didn't fall.
Mavericks 112, Kings 93 DALLAS — Raja Bell was the unlikely hero for the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.
Bell provided a big boost for the suddenly re-energized Mavericks, outshooting the Sacramento Kings in the game-turning third quarter of a 112-93 victory. Bell had just 13 points, but nine in the decisive period as Dallas took a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.
Bell, making his second straight start for the injured Adrian Griffin (sprained right ankle) had four baskets in the third quarter. That was one more than Sacramento managed while being outscored 29-10 in the period.
Steve Nash, held to just six points in the Game 4 loss, scored 25 points. He was just 5-of-12 from the field, but hit 15 of 16 free throws. All five starters, plus Nick Van Exel, scored in double figures for Dallas.
Dirk Nowitzki has 16 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high nine assists, falling just short of the first triple-double in Dallas postseason history.
After playing three games in four nights, the teams are going right back to Sacramento. Game 6 is Thursday.
Bell's 3-pointer with 8:20 left in the third period broke a 65-65 tie and put the Mavericks ahead to stay. That also started a 15-4 run he ended with a putback layup that made it 80-69 with 1:59 left.
The Kings were just 3-for-25 in the third quarter, when their 10 points were the fewest ever by a Dallas opponent in a postseason quarter. Bell was 4-of-5 in the period.
After trailing by as many as 15 points in a lethargic first half, the Mavericks opened the second half with an 11-2 run, tying the score on Bell's 21-foot jumper.
Raef LaFrentz's basket gave the Mavericks their first lead at 65-63. Peja Stojakovic hit two free throws to tie the game for the second — and last — time.
Doug Christie led the Kings with 21 points, and Stojakovic had 19. Sacramento is without star forward Chris Webber (knee injury).
The Mavericks are one win away from reaching the Western Conference finals for only the second time. Last year, Dallas was eliminated in five games by Sacramento in the second round.
If a seventh game is necessary, it will be Saturday night in Dallas.
Sacramento never got closer than 11 points in the fourth quarter, after Bobby Jackson hit a 3-pointer early to make it 85-74.
Both teams showed signs of being tired, but the Mavericks also have the lingering effects of getting pushed to seven games in the first round by Portland. The Kings got five days off between series; Dallas got one.
But Dallas, which played its eighth game in 14 days, has control of the series.
Sacramento had a 44-29 lead when Christie made a 3-pointer with 9:03 left in the first half. The teams then traded baskets for five minutes, and the Mavericks still trailed 61-54 at halftime.
Playing their third game without leading scorer Webber, who got hurt in Game 2, the Kings still built a quick 12-4 lead.
Dallas missed 13 of its first 17 shots, and from after LaFrentz's slam dunk for a 2-2 tie, it trailed until that post-halftime spurt.
But while Dallas was still struggling, Sacramento's big men were getting in foul trouble.
Vlade Divac had two fouls in the first quarter, and his primary replacement, Keon Clark, had three. Both finished with five points and five fouls.
With Divac and Clark spending so many minutes out of the game, LaFrentz had five blocks. Michael Finley and Nowitzki had three each, giving the Mavs a postseason franchise high of 11.
Van Exel finished with 18 points and Finley had 16.
Jackson, playing with a fractured cheek bone, had 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting for the Kings, who shot just 36 percent (33-for-92). Mike Bibby had 13 points. Notes: Nowitzki, Finley, Nash and Van Exel recovered from their Game 4 breakdown, when they combined for just 38 points on 16-of-55 shooting. They scored 65 Tuesday night, going 23-of-60. That's still way below their combined 103 points in Game 2 and 116 in Game 3, the other Dallas wins in the series. … Utah scored just 12 points in a quarter of a postseason game against the Mavericks on May 3, 2001. … The crowd of 20,566 was the largest in American Airlines Center history.
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