Tony Parker came out as promised, aggressively going right at the basket.
However, one spectacular half and a late surge by Parker couldn't save San Antonio from the brink of playoff elimination against the Dallas Mavericks.
Josh Howard scored 28 points, seven in an early second-half spurt that put the Mavericks ahead to stay in a 99-90 victory Saturday that gave them a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.
Parker had 31 of his 43 points by halftime, matching George Gervin's franchise playoff record for points in a half. That came after he was held to 12 points in Game 3, when the Spurs lost 88-67 in their lowest-scoring playoff game ever.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in San Antonio.
Without an incredible comeback, the Spurs will be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000. They have been in every postseason since and won three NBA titles.
Parker and Tim Duncan couldn't save San Antonio with their own big comebacks.
Parker looked like he did in Game 2, a 38-point performance in which he was constantly driving for scores in a victory that evened the series. Duncan followed his worst playoff game ever, four points and two rebounds in Game 3, with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
After Parker and Duncan helped push the Spurs to a 55-51 halftime lead, Howard hit a 3-pointer to open the second half. By the time Howard made another three minutes later, after Jason Kidd hit one, Dallas led 64-58.
When San Antonio got the ball back, Parker had another drive and the ball was swiped away by Dirk Nowitzki. Then Duncan was blocked by Ryan Hollins.
Nowitzki was held to 12 points, but had 13 rebounds. Kidd scored 17 points.