on May 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Spurs eclipse Suns to set up showdown against Hornets

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The San Antonio Spurs marched into the second round of the Western Conference playoffs with a 92-87 home win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

Tony Parker scored 31 points and Tim Duncan added 29 points and 17 rebounds as the NBA champions wrapped up the first round series 4-1 to set up a showdown against the New Orleans Hornets, who eliminated the Dallas Mavericks.

The Spurs led by nine points at the half but were out-scored 27-15 in the third quarter before rallying in the final quarter against the Suns, who have lost to the Spurs in four of their last five playoff appearances.

“We were struggling, we had a very bad third quarter,” Parker told reporters. “But we treated it like a Game Seven.

“We just stayed focused and came back strong in the fourth quarter and did what we had to do. Now we need to get some rest, we have some old guys on this team.”

It was another post-season disappointment for the Suns, who posted their fifth straight 50-win regular season, only to lose again to the Spurs, who eliminated them in a six games in the conference semi-finals last season.

The Spurs shot just 39 percent but their tenacious defense held the Suns to just 15 points in the final quarter, forcing Phoenix into several crucial turnovers in the final two minutes.

Boris Diaw led the Suns with 22 points and Amare Stoudemire had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

However, Shaquille O’Neal was held to just 13 points and Steve Nash only managed 11 points and made five turnovers, two of them late in the game.

In other NBA playoff action, the Hornets advanced to the second round with a 99-94 win over the Mavericks, taking the series 4-1.

Chris Paul had a triple double for the Hornets — 24 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds — as the team recorded its first playoff series win since moving to New Orleans.

The Hornets never trailed in the game in handing the Mavericks their second consecutive first round playoff loss.

Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points for the Mavericks, who got to within three points late in the game after trailing by as many as 17.

In Detroit, the Pistons took the series lead for the first time with a 98-81 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Chauncey Billups scored 21 points, Richard Hamilton had 20 and Rasheed Wallace added 19 for the Pistons, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.

In Houston, Tracy McGrady had 29 points as the Rockets avoided elimination with a dominating 95-69 win over the Utah Jazz.

Utah still leads the series 3-2 and can close it out with a Game Six win at home on Friday.

(Writing by Roger Lajoie in Toronto; Editing by John O’Brien)