Tim Duncan scored 19 points as the San Antonio Spurs made a second consecutive trip to the Western Conference finals after a series-clinching 94-82 victory against the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of their conference semifinal on Thursday.
The Spurs, who will host the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 on Sunday, used superlative ball movement — generating 27 assists on 33 baskets — and stifling defense to close out the Warriors despite the best efforts of a raucous Oracle Arena crowd.
Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard, Duncan’s partners in the Spurs’ frontcourt, combined for 30 points as San Antonio never trailed during the final 39 minutes. All five Spurs starters reached double figures.
Stephen Curry tried to carry Golden State with a game-high 22 points, but the Warriors were held to just 38.8 percent (33-for-85) from the floor as an accumulation of injuries finally came due for Golden State; All-Star power forward David Lee was limited to 12 minutes, while small forward Harrison Barnes and centerAndrew Bogut were both forced to the bench by game’s end.
QUOTABLE: “It was a tough series, really tested our defense. I’m really proud of our guys, that they were pretty darn consistent after the first two games, as far as the defense goes.”
— Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
THE STAT: The Warriors held San Antonio’s key backcourt performers — Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — to a combined 4-for-22 shooting night, but the duo dealt out 19 assists as the Spurs simply moved the ball too quickly for the depleted Golden State defense to catch up.
TURNING POINT: The Spurs opened 4-for-16 on 3-pointers but hit their last three went it counted the most. Parker, who had only three points through the first 44 minutes of the game, drained a pair of treys from either corner and had 10 points down the stretch as San Antonio closed on a 17-7 run.
QUOTABLE II: “Tonight, I just didn’t have it. It was not there, missing some easy stuff. But I just kept believing in me. My teammates, they were behind me, they kept telling me, ‘Keep shooting, it’ll go in.'”
— Tony Parker
HOT: Splitter opened the series on the Spurs’ bench after suffering a sprained ankle in San Antonio’s first-round series, but he returned in full force Thursday, providing 16 points and 10 rebounds, including a pair of open layups to open the fourth quarter. With Memphis big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph looming on the horizon, Splitter’s contributions should become even more vital as the Spurs try to rectify the unfinished business of losing last year’s conference final to Oklahoma City.
QUOTABLE III: “We were disappointed last year, being up 2-0, having home-court [advantage], not being able to go to the [NBA] Finals. It gave us a lot of fuel for this year. . . . I think everybody understands that occasions, opportunities don’t come very often. Last year we missed one, a close one.”
— Tony Parker
NOT: Klay Thompson recorded a career-high 34 points in Game 2 of this series, but he was a nonentity the rest of the way. He missed his first five shots Thursday en route to a 4-for-12 performance, making him 34.0 percent (18-for-53) since the Game 2 explosion.
GOOD MOVE: Popovich said he learned his lesson from Games 1 and 2 in San Antonio, where he let the Warriors build up too much momentum before deploying his timeouts. Thursday, he took them early and often — twice on Curry’s first three buckets — and contained Golden State’s runs almost before they began.
ROOKIE WATCH: Harrison Barnes had a standout first half, hounding Parker into a 1-for-6, three-point performance, but he headed to the locker room after a scary fall with 1:15 remaining. Barnes crashed down on his right side after moving to cut off a drive by Spurs forward Boris Diaw, opening up a gash above his right eye that required six stitches at the half. A spokesman said Barnes passed a concussion test at the half, and he played all 12 minutes in the third quarter, but after going 0-for-3 in the period, he did not appear in the fourth period due to what the team described as “a headache.”
NOTABLE: Leonard had 10 rebounds to go along with 16 points for his second double-double of the series. . . . Bogut — who struggled physically in Game 5 — told reporters his surgically repaired ankle is fine, but he was still very limited Thursday before Warriors coach Mark Jackson finally shut him down midway through the third quarter. “It got to a point . . . where he basically told me he couldn’t move,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t going to chance him. . . . In 873 career NBA games — counting regular-season and playoff appearances — this was only the fourth time Ginobili has had double digits in assists but not in points. . . . Jarrett Jack had 15 points in what might be his last game as a Warrior. The guard will be a free agent this summer.