The San Antonio Spurs swept into the second round of the NBA playoffs on Sunday, eliminating the Grizzlies in four games with a 116-95 triumph in Memphis.
The Spurs, seeded second in the Western Conference, became the first team to reach the conference semi-finals, powering past a Grizzlies team beset by injuries — most notably to Spanish big man Marc Gasol.
In the next round the Spurs will face either Oklahoma City or Dallas. The Thunder, led by the star duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, lead the Mavericks 3-1 in their series.
In the other Western Conference contest, the Golden State Warriors used a big third quarter to beat the Houston Rockets 121-94 and take a commanding 3-1 series lead despite an abbreviated appearance by reigning Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry.
The Warriors set an NBA playoff record with 21 three pointers, one of them from Curry before he left the contest after injuring his knee in the first half when he slipped on a wet spot.
Curry had missed games two and three with a right ankle injury.
Warriors stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green paced a third-quarter three-point barrage for Golden State as Thompson finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Thompson and Green combined to score 25 of the Warriors’ 41 third-quarter points as they inflicted most of the damage from the perimeter.
The Warriors forged a 56-56 tie at the half when Andre Iguodala converted a Houston turnover into a dunk with four seconds left.
In Memphis, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge posted a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, while veteran French point guard Tony Parker contributed 16 points for the Spurs.
About the only thing that slowed the visitors was an 18-minute first-half delay after a power surge caused a loss of power at the Grizzlies’ arena.
The Spurs held only a slim two-point lead at halftime, but a dominant 37-21 third quarter saw them take an 84-66 lead into the final period, in which they led by as many as 25 points.
Memphis guard Lance Stephenson came off the bench to lead all scorers with his playoff career-best 26 points. Three Grizzlies starters scored in double figures — Zach Randolph and Matt Barnes with 15 points each and Vince Carter with 14.
But it wasn’t enough to stop the ninth sweep of a seven-game series overseen by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who passed Phil Jackson for the most by a coach. – Agence France-Presse