The San Antonio Spurs moved into the second round of the National Basketball Association playoffs by beating the Utah Jazz 87-81 to complete a four-game sweep.
Manu Ginobili scored 17 points while Tony Parker and Tim Duncan each had 11 last night in Salt Lake City as the Spurs, the top seed in the Western Conference, avenged their opening-round ouster from a year ago. San Antonio last season was also the No. 1 team in the West and got eliminated by the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
“We weren’t looking ahead,” Duncan said. “It was good to get these guys done with and move on to the next round.”
The Spurs, who tied the Chicago Bulls for the NBA’s best regular-season record at 50-16, advance to face the Los Angeles Clippers or Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals. The Clippers beat the Grizzlies 101-97 in overtime last night in Los Angeles for a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.
San Antonio used a 21-3 first-half scoring run to open a 14-point lead at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City.
After the Jazz pulled within three points late in the third quarter, Ginobili hit consecutive 3-pointers to push the Spurs’ advantage back to 10 points. San Antonio stretched its lead to as much as 21 points, at 81-60 with six minutes remaining.
The Jazz, led by 26 points and 10 rebounds from Al Jefferson, responded with a 19-2 scoring run to pull within four points with under a minute left. Parker then had a steal for San Antonio and passed to Ginobili for a layup with 18 seconds left that helped seal the Spurs’ win.
The Spurs hit 10-of-22 three-point shots, while the Jazz missed all 13 of their attempts from beyond the arc.
Griffin Leads Clippers
At the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Chris Paul scored eight of his 27 points during overtime as the Clippers pulled out the win. Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with 30 points before fouling out.
Mike Conley had 25 points and Rudy Gay added 23 points for the Grizzlies, who had finished the fourth quarter with a 13-3 scoring run to force overtime.
The Clippers can win their second playoff series since moving to Los Angeles in 1985 with a Game 5 victory in Memphis tomorrow.
Four playoff games are scheduled for tonight.
The Bulls, the Eastern Conference’s top seed, host the Philadelphia 76ers after losing three straight games to trail 3-1 in their series. Also in the East, the Indiana Pacers are home to the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics visit the Atlanta Hawks. The Pacers and Celtics hold 3-1 series leads.
The Los Angeles Lakers host the Denver Nuggets tonight with a 3-1 advantage in their Western Conference series.