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NBA PLAYOFFS - Spurs sweep Jazz, advance to second round


PhilBoxing.com




THE San Antonio Spurs exorcised the ghosts of their recent playoffs past by sweeping the Utah Jazz in their opening round series and punch a ticket to this year's Western Conference semifinals against the winner of the winner of the Clippers-Grizzlies match-up.

The No.1 seed in the West in last year's postseason, the Spurs were unceremoniously eliminated in the first round by the then 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies, leaving a ugly blot in the proud franchise's championsip tradition.

The Spurs entered the postseason also as the West's No.1 seed this year. But there's no major upset this time, none of the underwhelming effort that characterized last season's demise. Thus far, the Spurs are showing the strength and poise that have netted them NBA titles in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Relying on their size, might and bench depth, San Antonio simply crushed an overwhelmed Utah team, winning the first three games by an average margin of 19.3 points including a massive 114-83 Game 2 blowout at the AT@T Center in San Antonio.

The Game 4 clincher Monday night at the Energy Solutions Arena in Utah wasn't a complete and thorough annihilation, but the Spurs won easily anyway, leading by 21 in the fourth quarter before settling with an 87-81 finale.

"We want to get it done. Obviously we want to stay away from injuries, get as much rest as possible, stay as fresh as possible. All of that equals trying to get the series done as quickly as possible," Spurs center Tim Duncan said prior to the close out game.

Mission accomplished.

With a ticket to Round 2 of these NBA playoffs on hand, the Spurs have at least a few days rest, depending on how short or long the Clippers-Grizzlies showdown last.

Led by Manu Ginobili's 17, the Spurs had five guys who finished with double figures in points. Tony Parker, George Neal and Duncan tallied 11 each while Tiago Splitter had 10. Stephen Jackson chipped in eight points.

San Antonio shot poorly from the field, 28-of-74 (37.8 percent), but they were terrific from 3-point range, 10-of 22 (45.5 percent). The Jazz also had trouble finding their mark, 32-of-88 field goals (36.4 percent). Utah was especially bad above the arc, missing all 13 attempts.

The Jazz bigs -- Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors -- combined for 42 points and 20 rebounds while point guard Devin Harris had 19 points and 7 assists. Paul Millsap finished with 10. But the Jazz had no answer to the Spurs' bench, who outscored their Jazz counterparts, 47-10.

"I just think we're playing against a team that is at it's peak. I don't see nobody beating them. We ain't given up trying. But this is a great team," Jazz center Al Jefferson said Sunday.

He was right. These Spurs are good. Really, really good. (Homer D. Sayson)


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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