Originally created 05/04/01

Mavericks 84, Jazz 83



SALT LAKE CITY -- Michael Finley scored 33 points and youth was served as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Utah Jazz 84-83 Thursday night in the decisive fifth game of their first-round playoff series.

Calvin Booth got free for a layup over Donyell Marshall with 9.8 seconds remaining, giving the Mavericks an 84-83 lead, the first time Dallas went ahead since 3-2 two minutes into the game.

The Mavericks ran an isolation play for Finley, who seemed ready to work his 6-foot-7 advantage over the smaller and slower John Stockton. But Finley saw Booth open underneath and flipped it inside.

"We got down 14, but the coaching staff said to keep pushing and that is what we did," Finley said. "We never gave up."

The Jazz called a timeout and set up a final play. Bryon Russell inbounded to Stockton, who drove and kicked it over to Russell on the right wing. He missed a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds to go, but Stockton corralled the rebound and passed to Karl Malone.

Unfortunately for Utah, the Mailman didn't deliver this time. He missed an open jumper from the top of the key. When the horn went off, the Mavericks flooded the floor in celebration.

"We kept our composure," Steve Nash said. "A lot of times we could have folded, but we hung in there, and now we're going on."

It was the first time Dallas, in the playoffs for the first time since 1990, won a postseason series since the 1988 Western Conference semifinals. And it was Utah's first loss in the opening round since 1995 against Houston.

The Mavericks will open the best-of-seven second round on Saturday at San Antonio.

Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points for Dallas, the sixth team in NBA history to win a five-game series after trailing 0-2 and the first since Seattle in 1994.

"We showed some character and hung in there," he said. "We did it the whole year and we knew we would come back. If we struggled, we just played through it and worked through it."

The Mavericks rallied from second-half deficits of 13 and 20 points in the first two games of the series, both homecourt victories for Utah.

This time, Dallas trailed 46-31 1:01 before halftime and 71-57 after the third quarter. But the Mavericks came back again, trimming the deficit to 77-76 with a 15-2 run over a span of 4:13 in the fourth.

"At halftime, we just said 'Stay positive, and we did all the way,"' said Nash, who had nine fourth-quarter points after being held scoreless through three periods.

Nash hit two 3-pointers in the run, the second pulling the Mavericks within one point with 6:17 remaining. He tied it at 79-79 with a 3-pointer with 4:03 to play.

It was back and forth in the dramatic final minutes before Booth got the game-winner.

Malone led the Jazz with 24 points while Russell had 15 and the Jazz got a surprising 12 from Olden Polynice. Marshall scored 11.

The Jazz controlled the tempo for the first three quarters and the first four minutes of the final period, and it seemed the veteran Utah squad had nothing to worry about, other than a strained back to Malone.

The Mailman needed a break 40 seconds after tipoff but soon returned, and it didn't slow him. After a brief trip to the locker room, he scored 12 points in the period and the Jazz seized control with a 16-4 run to close the first half.

It was the same injury he sustained in Game 4.

After colliding with Howard early in the second half Tuesday, Malone grimaced and held his back. Later that night he denied being hurt, and aside from standing stiffly during breaks in play, the injury didn't bother him in Game 5.

Notes:

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban bought 400 tickets, offering them free to Dallas fans willing to make the trip or those living in the Salt Lake area. They sat scattered around the arena. ... Utah's Greg Ostertag got a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a second-quarter dunk that was disallowed because of an offensive foul. ... The Spurs won the series season with the Mavericks 3-1. ... The last time Dallas won a playoff series was against Denver in the 1988 Western Conference semifinals.