Basketball: San Antonio Spurs eliminate Memphis, cruise into second round of playoffs

Memphis Grizzlies forward Chris Andersen (7) steals the ball from San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) in Sunday's NBA playoff match.
Memphis Grizzlies forward Chris Andersen (7) steals the ball from San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) in Sunday's NBA playoff match.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - 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.

LaMarcus Aldridge posted a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, while veteran French point guard Tony Parker contributed 16 points for San Antonio.

About the only thing that slowed the visitors was an 18-minute first-half delay after a power surge in Memphis 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 sweep, the ninth sweep of a seven-game series overseen by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who passed Phil Jackson for the most by a coach.