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Ginobili ends slump; Spurs sweep Jazz

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Associated Press
May 8, 2012
— Manu Ginobili broke out of his shooting slump with 17 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs to an 87-81 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night and a sweep of their first-round Western Conference series.

Ginobili was 0 for 8 from beyond the arc in the first three games. But after Utah pulled within 61-58 with 3:18 left in the third, he hit consecutive 3-pointers then added another as the Spurs regained control, taking a 76-58 lead early in the fourth.


The Jazz went scoreless for more than 8 minutes during a 15-0 Spurs run. Utah made a furious charge late and was within 83-79 on Al Jefferson’s putback with 49 seconds left.


But Ginobili’s fastbreak layup after a steal by Tony Parker sealed it.


Utah’s Big 3 lineup with Derrick Favors at power forward kept the Jazz close, but San Antonio’s bench made the difference, outscoring the Jazz’s reserves 47-10.


Top-seeded San Antonio advanced to the second round and awaits the winner of the Memphis-Los Angeles Clippers series, which may not be settled until Sunday.


The Spurs are on a 14-game winning streak and looking to make amends for a first-round upset by Memphis last year.


The Jazz have lost eight straight playoff games as they were swept by the Lakers in the second round two years ago. It was only the second first-round sweep in Jazz history, the other coming in 1989.


The young, inexperienced Jazz put up a fight at the end, but it was too little too late.


The Spurs won Game 1 by 15 points, Game 2 by 31 and Game 3 by 12, relying on MVP candidate Parker and the deepest bench in the league.


With Parker scoring 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting Monday, and Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green struggling offensively, the Spurs bench picked up the slack.


“We’ve been a deeper team this year than we usually are and it sure came in handy tonight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.


Ginobili, who missed 32 games because of injury in the regular season, shot just 6 of 26 in the first three games but came up big when the Spurs needed him most.


Tim Duncan added 11 points and was the only other starter in double figures for the Spurs.


Stephen Jackson added 11 points and Tiago Splitter had 10 for the Spurs.


Jefferson led Utah with 26 points on 13-of-19 shooting, and had 10 rebounds.


Devin Harris added 19 points but shot just 6 of 17. Favors, making his first postseason start, added 16 points and blocked shots by Parker and Splitter.


Gordon Hayward, who finished the regular season strong, shooting .507 from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range over the final 13 games, went 0 for 7 overall on Monday.


Utah’s first two players off the bench, Alec Burks and Josh Howard, were a combined 0 for 10 from the field.


Before the game Jefferson conceded that the Spurs simply were the better team, and the best in the NBA.


On Monday they showed why.


Still, the Jazz made a game of it after trailing by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter.


“Some people thought it was over and the Jazz ran it right at us,” Popovich said. “They don’t quit. They are a class team and a class organization and (coach) Ty (Corbin) is continuing that.”


The Spurs are seeking their fifth NBA title, having won in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, going through the Jazz for the last of the championships.


San Antonio has won the last two playoff series with Utah after losing three during the 1990s when the Jazz had a different Big 3 with coach Jerry Sloan, Karl Malone and John Stockton.



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