Spurs, Suns earn West semis date
SAN ANTONIO — Manu Ginobili stepped off the podium and bumped into Dirk Nowitzki. They shook hands. Nowitzki gave his longtime foe a congratulatory slap on the back and Ginobili disappeared down the hallway.
He was off to celebrate a playoff series win. Just like old times for the Spurs.
"We're thrilled that we beat them," Ginobili said. "We're really proud of it."
Nowitzki then sat down for a playoff ritual of his own — dissecting yet another first-round failure by the Mavericks.
Ginobili scored 26 points and San Antonio survived blowing a 22-point lead to finish off the Mavericks, 97-87, in Game 6 last night, getting payback after Dallas eliminated the Spurs a year ago in the opening round.
The seventh-seeded Spurs will play the sixth-seeded Suns in the Western Conference semifinals starting Monday night in Phoenix.
The Mavs, meanwhile, slump away into another too-early summer.
Dallas lost in the first round for the third time in four years. The Mavs head into an interesting offseason for a team that's won 50 games for 10 straight seasons, but has only one trip to the NBA finals to show for it.
"Going into the playoffs as a No. 2 seed, it is all we could have wanted," Nowitzki said. "We just happened to see a tough No. 7 seed that got rolling at the right time."
Said Mavs guard Jason Terry, "As of right now this season is a failure."
Nowitzki nearly carried the Mavs to an unbelievable comeback, getting 25 of his 33 points in a remarkable second half. But George Hill, the hero for the Spurs in Game 4, scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to keep the series from going back to Dallas.
It will technically go down as an upset. San Antonio is only the fifth No. 7 seed to win a first-round series, and the first since the opening round became a best-of-7 in 2003. It hadn't been done since New York beat Miami in 1998.
SUNS 99, TRAIL BLAZERS 90
PORTLAND, Ore. — Jason Richardson wanted to be the wild card in the playoffs for the Phoenix Suns.
So while the Portland Trail Blazers were focused on Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash, Richardson came up big for the third time in the first-round series, scoring 28 points in a 99-90 Game 6 victory last night as Phoenix won, 4-2.
Richardson had 29 points in the Suns' 119-90 victory in Game 2 before scoring a career playoff-high 42 in a 108-89 win in Game 3.
"Everybody knows what Steve can do, and everybody knows what Amare can do. I'm just trying to be that wild card, that third scorer, and help us get wins and try to go deep into the playoffs," Richardson said.
The Suns went up 53-41 at halftime and led by as many as 16 points in the second half. The Blazers tied it at 76 midway through the fourth quarter, but could not pull ahead.
Martell Webster had 19 points for Portland, which failed to advance out of the first round for the second straight year.