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Mavs oust Spurs, Rockets fall

THE Dallas Mavericks completed a surprise series victory over the higher-ranked San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, while the Rockets' bid for a second-round berth was grounded when Houston lost to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The sixth-seeded Mavericks rode Dirk Nowitzki's 31-point performance to a 106-93 Game 5 victory in San Antonio to claim their best-of-seven Western Conference series 4-1.

Houston, which could have joined the Mavericks in the second round with a win, lost 77-88 at Portland but still leads the series 3-2.

In other games, the Boston Celtics overcame the stubborn Chicago Bulls 106-104 in overtime and the Orlando Magic cruised to a 91-78 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, giving both winning teams 3-2 advantages in their Eastern Conference matchups.

In San Antonio, Nowitzki hit 11-of-17 shots for game scoring honors but the German forward received plenty of support as the Mavericks turned back San Antonio's two-man tandem of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.

Duncan finished with 30 points and Parker added 26 points and 12 rebounds, but the rest of the team had just 37 points.

Dallas backed up Nowitzki with five other players in double figures as the Mavericks advanced to the second round for the first time in three years. They will play the winner of the Denver-New Orleans series in the conference semifinals.

"We're not finished yet," Dallas's Jason Terry told reporters after completing a 19-point effort.

Birthday boy Josh Howard added 17 and center Erick Dampier contributed 11 points and 12 rebounds.

San Antonio, which was without Manu Ginobili, failed to make it past the first round for the first time since 2000.

"They're a better team than we are right now," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We made runs, but every time we got back into the game, they made more big shots. That's why they won the series."

Four-point lead

In Portland, Houston held a four-point lead with 9:34 to play but the Trail Blazers went on a 15-0 run to overturn the deficit and seal victory.

Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge both scored 25 points for Portland. Luis Scola led the Rockets with 21 points, while Yao Ming added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

The series moves back to Houston for Game 6 tomorrow.

In Boston, Paul Pierce's jumper with 3.4 seconds to play in overtime earned a narrow victory for the Celtics.

Pierce, who had 26 points, made three successive jumpers in the final 77 seconds. He had earlier sent the game into overtime with another jump shot with 10.5 seconds to play.

Rajon Rondo paced Boston with 28 points and 11 assists. Glen Davis added 21 points and Kendrick Perkins provided 19 rebounds and 16 points.

Ben Gordon had 26 points for Chicago, which hosts Game 6.

In Orlando, Dwight Howard delivered 24 points and a career-playoff best 24 rebounds to help the third-seeded Magic dominate the Sixers.

Rashard Lewis also had 24 points for Orlando, while Andre Iguodala paced Philadelphia with 26.


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