Saturday , May , 19 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Spurs eliminate Suns; reach West finals

San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) – Manu Ginobili poured in 33 points and
grabbed 11 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs rode a second-half surge to a
114-106 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 to win their Western Conference
Semifinals series, and earn a spot in the Western Conference Finals.

Tony Parker had 30 points, and Tim Duncan finished with 24 points, 13
rebounds, and nine blocks for the Spurs, who will face the Utah Jazz for a
spot in the NBA Finals.

Amare Stoudemire scored 38 points and ripped down 12 rebounds in his return
from a one-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation late in
Game 4. Steve Nash scored 18 points and tallied 14 assists, and Shawn Marion
had 11 points and 11 boards. Leandro Barbosa and Raja Bell had 13 points each.

“Not having two players taken from us for a game would help,” said Nash when
asked what can be done next year for the Suns to finally get past the Spurs.
“I hate talking about giving it a better shot next year. We didn’t get it
done. I’d like to give them credit, but…we didn’t get any favors.”

Boris Diaw, the other Suns player suspended for Game 5, had a night to forget,
scoring only one point and grabbing one rebound in 13 minutes.

“It is what it is,” said Stoudemire of missing Game 5. “We had a chance to win
it here in Game 6, but we just couldn’t get it done.”

The Spurs buried the Suns in a 20-point deficit early in the fourth quarter,
and looked ready to clinch the series in a rout. Nash led the Suns back to
within striking distance, but Phoenix could not get the defensive stops it
needed to take the lead.

“It was a hard-fought game on both sides, it was good basketball,” said
Duncan. “Those guys (the Suns) are capable on any night of really putting a
run together. We were fortunate enough to have a really great third quarter.”

Stoudemire tipped a shot in to open the final quarter, cutting the Spurs lead
to 81-69, but Ginobili and Parker powered an 11-3 run. Ginobili drilled a
jumper to put San Antonio ahead 92-72 with 9:09 left. Nash and the Suns were
able to whittle the lead down to single digits, but the Spurs always had the
answer in holding off the late charge.

“They never gave up, time just ran out on them,” said Duncan.

After a Stoudemire layup cut the deficit to 12 points, Michael Finley nailed a
three-pointer to put the Spurs up 99-84 with just over five minutes left. The
Suns kept coming, though, scoring eight straight to trim the Spurs lead to
99-92 with 2:33 left. Parker was left open for a jumper just inside the arc,
which he promptly drilled to put San Antonio up 101-92 with 2:09 left.

Nash led the final charge, making a three to pull the Suns to within 105-99
and, after Ginobili missed one-of-two free throws, a Marion dunk made it
106-101 with 34 seconds left. Ginobili sank two free throws, though, and a
Marion turnover led to a Finley layup, sealing the series-clinching win.

“I don’t know what to say…It’s just very difficult for us to finish a season
like this,” said Nash.

The Spurs grinded the high-flying Suns offense to a halt in the third quarter,
and began to pull away late. After a Stoudemire layup pulled Phoenix to within
63-61 at the 5:39 mark, Bruce Bowen nailed a three, and Ginobili drilled back-
to-back treys. The 9-0 run fueled a 18-6 Spurs stretch to close the third
quarter, putting the Suns in an 81-67 hole entering the fourth quarter.

The teams played to a 23-23 deadlock after the first quarter. Neither team led
by more than three points in the second quarter, and the Spurs took a 53-51
lead into the break.

Game Notes

San Antonio knocked the Suns out of the playoffs in both 2003 and 2005,
and have not lost a series to the Suns in the playoffs since being eliminated
in the first round in 2000…Tim Duncan has now recorded nine straight 20-
point, 10-rebound postseason games for the first time in his playoff career,
10 straight including the 2006 postseason…Since the start of the 1998
playoffs, the Spurs are 8-0 when holding a 3-2 series lead over their
opponent, and are 7-1 in a Game 6 situation with the opportunity to eliminate
the opposition.