Carter's 3 sends Mavs past Spurs

Dallas, TX ( - Vince Carter let his right hand dangle in the air as the ball passed through the rim, hitting nothing but net.

Monta Ellis kept the Dallas Mavericks in the game, but it was the 37-year-old Carter who won it.

Carter's 3-pointer at the buzzer Saturday gave the Mavericks a 109-108 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Catching an inbound pass from Jose Calderon on the left sideline, Carter pump- faked Manu Ginobili in the corner and let the shot fly as he fell out of bounds.

After it went in, Carter stomped on the court and was mobbed by teammates. Dirk Nowitzki put him in a headlock. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban rushed to give him a hug.

This is what it looks like when a No. 8 seed takes a 2-1 series lead over the best team in the NBA.

"Sometimes you need something like that," said Calderon. "I think we were fighting so hard for 48 minutes against a really good team. Coming up with that great shot at the end -- it feels great."

The Mavericks, who have won two in a row in the best-of-seven set, will host Game 4 on Monday.

Carter's game-winner came after Ginobili's running bank shot gave the Spurs a two-point lead with 1.7 seconds remaining.

"Vince made a shot. Manu guarded him, he did it well and Vince made a shot," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "Give him credit. There was no breakdown or anything like that. Manu was right there and he did everything he could. Vince knocked it down."

Ellis led Dallas with 29 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Without him, the Mavericks wouldn't have had much of a chance.

The guard hit a 3-pointer to give Dallas a lead with 6 1/2 minutes left, then a jumper the next time down the court. Later, another jumper cut San Antonio's lead to one. His three-point play after he was fouled on a baseline shot tied the score at 102-102 with 70 seconds remaining.

Nowitzki scored 18 points, Calderon had 16 and Samuel Dalembert had 13 points and 10 rebounds, hitting a pair of free throws that tied the score with 42 second left.

Boris Diaw knocked down a baseline jumper at the other end for the Spurs but Ellis came through for the Mavericks again, tying the game with 24.9 ticks remaining on a one-handed runner.

Ginobili drove around Shawn Marion at the other end and made his go-ahead bank shot over Dalembert. He had 12 points off the bench for the Spurs, who were led by Tim Duncan's 22 points.

Tony Parker added 19 points in the loss, Kawhi Leonard scored 17 and Tiago Splitter chipped in 14 points and 13 rebounds.

"I think we did enough," said Parker. "We played good defense. We shot 54 percent on the road; that's great. We moved the ball and got a lot of assists and lost on a shot like that. That's basketball. You just have to keep the morale good in the locker room and come back on strong on Monday."

Parker had 12 points in the first quarter, including a jumper to cap an early 8-0 run that tied the game. The Spurs shot 64 percent in the quarter and were up 34-27 going into the second.

The Mavericks, down as many as nine, closed the first half with a 14-5 burst punctuated by back-to-back 3-pointers from Marion, one from each side of the court, to take a 59-54 advantage into the break. They led 77-74 going into the fourth quarter.

Game Notes

Devin Harris scored three points after leading the Mavericks with 37 through the first two games ... The Spurs shot 54.3 percent and the Mavericks 51.2 percent ... The Spurs tightened up. After committing 24 turnovers in a Game 2 loss on Wednesday, leading to 33 Dallas points, they gave it away 15 times on Saturday.