David Robinson had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Vinny Del Negro added 25 points as San Antonio beat Phoenix 116-98 Friday night to win their first-round series in four games.
The Spurs, who had lost their six previous playoff games in Phoenix, will meet the winner of the Portland-Utah series in the second round."I thought our effort was fantastic," said Robinson, who was 12-of-21 from the field. "We maintained our intensity throughout the game. Everybody was ready to play."
Del Negro, who set a career playoff high with 29 points in Game 1, scored nine points in the third quarter Friday night, when the Spurs broke the game open by outscoring the Suns 33-18.
Phoenix made 14 of 21 shots in the period to stretch a one-point halftime lead into an 85-69 advantage going into the final quarter.
Avery Johnson had 15 points and 13 assists for the Spurs, who won the best-of-5 series 3-1.
"He's the heart of our team," Robinson said. "He's been a big part of our success."
Charles Barkley led the Suns with 21 points, but was only 6-of-15 from the field. Reserve Chris Carr added 17 points for Phoenix, which was 41-41 in the regular season.
"It's no fun to lose in the first round," Barkley said, "and it's no fun to play on a .500 team."
San Antonio, which led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter, was 10-of-16 from 3-point range, including 5-of-7 by Del Negro. The 10 3-pointers were a playoff record for the Spurs.
The Spurs, stung by the Suns' 14-rebound edge in their Game 3 victory, dominated the boards in Game 4, outrebounding Phoenix 47-30.
The Spurs led 52-51 at intermission after a first half that featured 10 lead changes and no lead of more than four points by either team.
The Suns cut the Spurs' lead to 67-61 on a 3-pointer by Wesley Person with 5:58 left in the third quarter, but San Antonio finished the period with an 18-8 run, most of it after Robinson went to the bench with his third foul.
After the Suns pulled to 77-67 on baskets by Wayman Tisdale and Danny Manning, Del Negro hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Spurs a 16-point lead.
The Spurs opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run that included two jumpers by Charles Smith, two layups by Johnson and a long baseline jumper by Sean Elliott, who finished with 15 points.
The game was very physical underneath, with Smith getting into several confrontations with the Suns. Barkley elbowed Smith in the back at one point, and Smith responded with a push. Both players were given technical fouls.