Spurs complete sweep of Blazers with 94-80 win
Posted: Sunday June 13, 1999 09:26 PM
PORTLAND, Ore. (CNN/SI) -- They've been labeled soft ... underachievers ... uncommitted. Now you can call them Western Conference champions.
The Spurs continued to steamroll their way through the playoffs, sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the best-of-7 Western Conference finals with a 94-80 victory Sunday.
Afterward, Robinson spoke to his teammates behind closed doors in the locker room about the importance of playing for a championship.
"It means so much to him," said Tim Duncan. "He's worked so many years and this is the first time he's gotten there. What he said is that this is the best that he's felt with a team, looking at all the people on the floor that he knows he can count on."
San Antonio goes to the finals as one of the hottest playoff teams ever.
The Spurs won their 10th straight postseason game, one short of the league record. Since a shaky 6-8 start, San Antonio is 42-6, a record that even Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls would have admired.
"It's been 10 long years but it's just what I imagined it would be like," Robinson said. "You work so hard. It feels really good to finally get there."
The Blazers, swept in a seven-game series for the first time in the franchise's history, challenged the Spurs with a third-quarter rally and led briefly.
But Duncan had two three-point plays, a spectacular slam dunk and a series of big defensive plays to help the Spurs pull away.
The Spurs buried the Blazers with a 71 percent shooting performance in the fourth quarter (12-for-17).
"It's incredible how well our our team is playing," Duncan said. "Everybody is finding a way to contribute, finding ways to make plays for everybody. You stop one guy, and another gets on a roll. We have so much trust in each other. The way we're winning shows how awesome we are."
San Antonio put away their biggest victory ever with a 17-4 run. Duncan and Sean Elliott each scored five points and Avery Johnson had four in the decisive surge. The first of Jaren Jackson's three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter put the Spurs up 81-67 with 7:09 to play.
Robinson had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Duncan, who had just five points in Game 3, had 18 points and eight rebounds in Game 4. Elliott scored 16. Johnson, the point guard Damon Stoudamire said would never lead a team to a championship, had 15 points and six assists.
Stoudamire, 1-for-12 in Portland's embarrassing 85-63 loss Friday night, was 9-for-13 for 21 points. Rasheed Wallace, the Blazers' lone consistent offensive threat in the series scored 17, while Isaiah Rider had 12.
San Antonio is 11-1 in the playoffs, 6-0 on the road. After winning the first-round series with Minnesota 3-1, the Spurs swept the Los Angeles Lakers and the Blazers. Now they go back to San Antonio to await the outcome of the Eastern Conference finals. New York leads Indiana 2-1 in that series.
The Spurs beat the Blazers for the seventh straight time. Of Portland's five home losses, three were to San Antonio.
Unlike Portland's lousy Game 3, the Blazers gave their best shot on Sunday.
"It was mainly what they did. rather than what we didn't do," Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "They're a better team, and that's all there is to it."
Never a flashy bunch, the Spurs celebrated only with hugs and high fives.
San Antonio is the first of the four old ABA teams to make it to the NBA Finals. Indiana could join them if the Pacers beat the Knicks.
Portland trailed nearly all of the first half but the Blazers did not roll over and die.
Trailing 48-36 on Elliott's 3-pointer with 10:24 to go in the third quarter, Portland came back with a 14-4 run.
Brian Grant's 16-footer from the baseline cut the lead to 52-50 with 6:16 left in the quarter. Wallace's three-point play got Portland within 56-55 with 4:01 to play in the third and Stoudamire's drive up the lane with 1:35 to play put the Blazers ahead 59-58.
But Duncan's three-point play on a rebound basket, which drew Grant's fourth foul, put San Antonio ahead for good, 61-59, with 1:21 to go in the third. The Spurs were up 62-59 going into the final quarter.
The Blazers twice cut the lead to one early in the fourth quarter, the last time at 64-63 on Rider's two free throws with 11:03 to play. Duncan's three-point play started the decisive run. Elliott followed with a three-point play, then Duncan stuffed it on a lob from Jackson to make it 72-63 with 9:52 to go.
The Spurs led by as many as 19 points in the final minutes.
Portland scored the game's first eight points, but San Antonio silenced the Rose Garden crowd early with a 17-2 run to go up 19-12. The Spurs stretched the lead to 33-23 on Steve Kerr's 3-pointer with 7:35 to go in the half. San Antonio twice led by 11 before settling for a 43-34 halftime lead.
"They are the best team in the NBA right now," Stoudamire said. "The way they're playing, it's going to be hard for anybody to beat them."
] Notes: The Spurs closed out all three playoff series on the road. ... The Los Angeles Lakers hold the NBA record for consecutive playoff victories with 11, set in 1989. ... After missing their first seven shots, the Spurs made their next nine. ... Wallace drew a technical foul, his third of the series, from referee Jack Nies after getting his second personal foul with 2:13 left in the first quarter. ... Three Spurs have been to the finals before -- Mario Elie (Houston), Will Perdue (Chicago), Kerr (Chicago) and Jerome Kersey (Portland). ... Johnson bruised his left knee when he slipped on a wet spot with 2:25 remaining in the first half and went to the locker room, but he came back to play almost all of the second half.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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