Tiago Splitter scored a playoff career-high 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, doing most of his damage in the fourth quarter as Dirk Nowitzki was going off for his best game of the playoffs so far. Tony Parker also broke out of his slump, hitting a huge three-pointer late in the game and leading the Spurs with 23 points, 5 assists and only one turnover.
The Spurs didn't play terrific defense -- the Mavericks shot 42.9 percent from three-point range and only turned the ball over eight times -- but their offense was so beautiful that it didn't matter. The Spurs shot 46.6 from the field, 50 percent from deep and turned the ball over just five(!) times.
The Spurs got out to a fast start after Samuel Dalembert left the game with an ankle injury. No Dalembert and no DeJuan Blair -- suspended for the game after kicking Splitter in the head in Game 4 -- lead to the Spurs leading by as much as 13 points. Dalembert returned in the second quarter after getting his ankle re-taped and the Mavericks made a run, led by Vince Carter, who scored 14 points in the half.
The Spurs answered back, getting the best stretch of basketball from Leonard so far in the series. Leonard scored 11 points with 5 rebounds in that first half, while Manu Ginobili simply continued his brilliant play with 12 points. Those two led the way as the Spurs took a nine-point halftime lead.
In the second half, Nowitzki had his first dominant stretch of the series. He hit six straight shots and got over 20 points -- he finished with 26 -- but he was always a step or two slow on defense, victimized frequently by Splitter and Tim Duncan, who got to the rim with impunity. The Spurs couldn't find Carter on the perimeter all night; Vinsanity hit 7-9 on three pointers and led all scorers with 28 points, but there was no opportunity for heroics on this night.
It was tempting to end this recap without mentioning what Duncan did. Understated as always, he went for 16 points and 12 rebounds with three blocks and no turnovers. He also delivered a big layup down the stretch. He's still the straw that stirs the drink here.
Game 6 will be back in Dallas on Friday night, and you can bet the American Airlines Center will be ferocious as the Mavs try to take this series to a seventh game.