DALLAS: 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.

Big comebacks by Parker and Tim Duncan weren't enough for San Antonio.

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.

After Dallas had stretched its lead to 83-71 early in the fourth quarter, Parker had a driving layup on a give-and-go with Duncan. George Hill hit a 3-pointer for the Spurs before Parker made three consecutive baskets: a layup on another pass from Duncan and two jumpers from at least 20 feet that got the Spurs within 87-82 with 7 1/2 minutes left.

It was still a five-point game when Parker had a breakaway after Nowitzki's turnover and was fouled by Kidd going for the layup with 3:47 left. But Parker missed both free throws.

That came just seconds after Hollins had a putback slam over Duncan on Kidd's missed 3-pointer. Hollins was then called for a technical foul for taunting Duncan.

Parker, who made 18 of 29 field goals, drove for a layup on the opening possession of the game, much like he did throughout Game 2, and added another long jumper in the first minute. Then he had consecutive jumpers during a 10-0 run midway through the first quarter before the Mavericks responded with a 16-4 quarter-ending spurt.

San Antonio made only one of its first seven shots to start the second quarter before Parker made a 3-pointer as the whistle blew. The call was going to be defensive infraction by the Mavs, so officials counted the basket.

Parker added another pair of 3s and his 11-foot turnaround jumper with 2:15 left made it 50-49, and put the Spurs until after halftime.

Notes:@ Gervin scored 31 points in the second half against the Washington Bullets on April 18, 1978. ... Parker had only three assists, all in the first two minutes of the game. ... Before the game, Mavericks guard Jason Terry was recognized for winning the NBA's sixth man award. Terry then scored 10 points, but shot only 3-of-17. ... One fan won a large-screen HD television after making a halfcourt shot during a timeout.