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Utah at San Antonio

Spurs enter playoffs as No. 3 after pounding visiting Jazz

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs made it clear they're ready to embark on their quest for back-to-back NBA titles.

The Spurs dominated the Utah Jazz 109-80 on Wednesday night to lock up the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference -- the same as they had last season -- and set up a first-round series against the rival Phoenix Suns, who have the sixth seed.

"We knew that we wanted to go into the playoffs on a positive note. It didn't matter who we were playing," guard Michael Finley said. "I knew we were going to come out with the aggression that we needed and that's what happened."

The No. 4 seed Jazz will take on the fifth-seeded Houston Rockets in a repeat of last year's first round, which Utah won in seven games.

The Spurs' win, coupled with Houston's victory earlier Wednesday evening, firmed up seeds 3-6 in the West, which were still up in the air on the last day of the regular season.

Despite the lower seed, Houston will have home-court advantage against the Jazz, who secured that spot because they won the Northwest Division.

While the Jazz were guaranteed either the third or fourth seed no matter what happened Wednesday, the Spurs had the potential to drop as low as sixth.

Tony Parker had 24 points and 12 assists for San Antonio in the easy win. Tim Duncan added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and four other Spurs scored in double digits.

C.J. Miles led the Jazz with 12 points. Mehmet Okur scored 11 and Carlos Boozer had 10 rebounds.

"We're just going to move forward, not dwell on it too much," Boozer said. "We've had a hell of a season, and we'll get ready for Houston."

The San Antonio-Phoenix matchup could be the best of the first round. The two met in the second round last season and the Spurs eliminated the Suns in six games on their way to their fourth title in nine seasons. But with the Eastern Conference weaker last year, many considered the Spurs-Suns series as on par with a finals matchup.

It certainly lived up to expectations by featuring plenty of bumps and bruises, suspensions, controversial fouls and harsh words between the teams.

But the usually fast-moving, high-scoring Suns are a different team this postseason. They acquired Shaquille O'Neal in a blockbuster trade and have been melding him into their system to give the team a defensive boost.

"Shaq slows them down a little bit," Manu Ginobili said. "So they gain a lot in one part, but they lose a little bit in another part. Still, Shaq is Shaq and you have to respect that."

Phoenix won the season series against the Spurs 3-1, including a 96-79 rout April 9 in San Antonio.

The Rockets are playing without Yao Ming, but had one of the season's headlines as they went on a 22-game winning streak.

But now the Rockets will also be without Rafer Alston, who strained his right hamstring against Denver on Sunday. Alston said he would likely miss Houston's first two playoff games.

Utah won the season series against Houston 2-1.

The Spurs put away the game early with their first-half play on Wednesday. They shot 72 percent from the field in the opening two quarters and scored one more point than they did in the entire game against Utah less than two weeks ago, when the Jazz routed them 90-64 in Salt Lake City.

"I thought it was a very important game, and we came out and didn't have anything," said Utah coach Jerry Sloan. "I think that most of the credit goes to them because of the way they came out and got after it. That's what they've always done, and we haven't responded to it the right way."

San Antonio outscored the Jazz 35-18 in the second quarter and went up by 28 points on Ginobili's reverse layup with 41 seconds left in the period. They were up 65-39 at the break.

In a sign of how important the game was, Ginobili played after sitting out three games with a strained left groin. The super-sub leads the team in scoring. Ginobili finished with 12 points.

"I feel very good," Ginobili said. "I felt good a couple of days ago, but (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) didn't want to risk (it), and I understand."

Utah guard Deron Williams, who shot 2-of-6 from the field in the first half, didn't play in the second half. He bruised his tailbone Saturday against Denver.

"I'm a little sore," Williams said. "We're down 25 to San Antonio on the road. I'm not giving up on the team, but that's tough to come back from. It's more important for me to get better now and get ready for Houston."

As the Spurs built their lead to as many as 29 in the third, Popovich started taking out his starters. First Finley, then Duncan, then Parker. Sloan did the same.

The Spurs were up 85-60 with one quarter to play.

Both Popovich and Sloan rested their stars during the fourth quarter.

Notes

  • The Jazz last won in San Antonio on Feb. 28, 1999.
  • Okur was called for a flagrant foul 1 with 8:27 to play in the third quarter after he whacked Spurs starting C Fabricio Oberto in the face. Oberto was touching his eye after the hit and went to the bench after missing both free throws. He returned in the fourth quarter. When asked whether Okur might be suspended, Sloan said: "The league takes care of those things. That's what the officials do. That's their job. I always respect what they're about. You hate to see those things happen. I think it's kind of unnecessary, but it happened. You pay the price of whatever they decide. You have to go from there."
  • Spurs G Brent Barry played in his second game after re-signing with the Spurs in March following a February trade sent him from San Antonio to Seattle. Barry had a strained left calf muscle that had sidelined him since late January.
  • The Spurs shot a season-high 59 percent (41-of-69) from the field Wednesday.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Oh geez, another Jordan impression? Oh well, Tony Parker is M.J.-esque with his 24 points. (AP)
Oh geez, another Jordan impression? Oh well, Tony Parker is M.J.-esque with his 24 points. (AP)

Scoreboard
Utah (54-28) 2118212080
San Antonio (56-26) «30352024109
UTA:C. Miles 12 Pts
UTA:C. Boozer 10 Reb
UTA:C. Boozer 5 Ast
SA:T. Parker 24 Pts
SA:T. Duncan 11 Reb
SA:T. Parker 12 Ast
Players of the Game
San AntonioUtah

T. Parker

C. Boozer
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
241128105
Utah
C. Boozer, PF273-82-210518
A. Kirilenko, SF254-71-15119
M. Okur, C232-87-843411
R. Brewer, SG204-60-00008
D. Williams, PG192-60-00225
P. Millsap, PF253-103-47229
K. Korver, SF213-70-00036
J. Collins, C180-21-21111
C. Miles, SG185-92-240012
R. Price, PG171-80-02223
M. Harpring, SF134-60-02028
J. Hart, PG130-40-01310
M. Almond, SGDid Not Play
K. Fesenko, CDid Not Play
Totals 31-8116-1936191980
 38.3%84.2% 
San Antonio
T. Parker, PG2910-174-6112024
T. Duncan, PF275-94-6110014
M. Finley, SG224-62-210012
F. Oberto, C223-30-24036
B. Bowen, SF181-20-02012
M. Bonner, PF243-72-242510
I. Udoka, SF212-70-04136
K. Thomas, PF204-52-220110
J. Vaughn, PG192-30-01114
M. Ginobili, SG194-44-464312
D. Stoudamire, PG110-31-22401
B. Barry, SG93-30-01128
R. Horry, PFDid Not Play
D. Johnson, SFDid Not Play
I. Mahinmi, CDid Not Play
Totals 41-6919-26392519109
 59.4%73.1% 
Other Games
Det 84 Final
Cle 74
NY 123 Final
Ind 132
Wash 83 Final
Orl 103
Phi 109 Final
Char 115
NO 98 Final
Dal 111
NJ 94 Final
Bos 105
Atl 99 Final
Mia 113
Mil 101 Final
Min 110
Tor 97 Final
Chi 107
LAC 75 Final
Hou 93
Mem 111 Final
Den 120
Port 91 Final
Pho 100
Sea 126 Final
GS 121