LOS ANGELES: San Antonio and Cleveland punched their tickets to the second round on Sunday (Monday in Manila) with the Spurs sweeping past the depleted Memphis Grizzlies and the Cavaliers doing likewise to the brash Detroit Pistons.
The Spurs eliminated the Grizzlies in four games with a 116-95 triumph in Memphis, becoming the first team to reach the second round. They overpowered a Grizzlies team beset by injuries — most notably to Spanish big man Marc Gasol.
The Spurs were followed several hours later by the Cleveland Cavaliers who got a 31-point performance by Kyrie Irving to beat the young Pistons team 100-98 in Game Four.
“They are like a machine,” said Memphis forward Zach Randolph of the Spurs.
In the other Western Conference contest, the Golden State Warriors used a big third quarter to beat the Houston Rockets 121-94 and take a commanding 3-1 series lead despite an abbreviated appearance by reigning most valuable player Stephen Curry.
The Warriors set an NBA playoff record with 21 three pointers, one of them from Curry before he left the contest after injuring his knee in the first half when he slipped on a wet spot.
Curry had missed games two and three with a right ankle injury. He is expected to have an MRI exam on Monday.
Warriors stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green paced a third-quarter three-point barrage for Golden State as Thompson finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Thompson and Green combined to score 25 of the Warriors’ 41 third-quarter points as they inflicted most of the damage from the perimeter.
The Warriors forged a 56-56 tie at the half when Andre Iguodala converted a Houston turnover into a dunk with four seconds left.
In Memphis, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge posted a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, while veteran French point guard Tony Parker contributed 16 points for the Spurs.
About the only thing that slowed the visitors was an 18-minute first-half delay after a power surge 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 ninth sweep of a seven-game series overseen by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who passed Phil Jackson for the most by a coach.
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.
LeBron James tallied 22 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland who had too much firepower and experience for the upstart Pistons to handle.
The Cavaliers advance to the NBA quarterfinals, where they will await the winner of the series between the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics that is tied at two games apiece.
Just as in games one and three, Detroit hung with Cleveland for the entire game, but the Cavaliers wouldn’t be denied down the stretch.
“I was being ultra aggressive. It was a close out game so it meant a lot,” said Irving. “I am happy with the series.”