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Ginobili inspires San Antonio to sweep over Utah in NBA play-offs

Spurs prove too good for Jazz with 87-81 victory in Game 4 of Western Conference Series.

San Antonio Spurs power forward Matt Bonner (15) congratulates shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City, Utah, May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Eli Lucero (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
San Antonio Spurs power forward Matt Bonner (15) congratulates shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City, Utah, May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Eli Lucero (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Manu Ginobili broke out of his shooting slump with 17 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs to an 87-81 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night and a sweep of their first-round NBAWestern Conference series.

Ginobili missed all eight from beyond the arc in the first three games. But after Utah pulled within 61-58 with 3 mins 18 secs left in the third, he hit consecutive three-pointers then added another as the Spurs regained control, taking a 76-58 lead early in the fourth.

The Jazz went scoreless for more than 8 minutes during a 15-0 Spurs run. Utah made a furious charge late and was within 83-79 on Al Jefferson's putback with 49 seconds left.

But Ginobili's fast break lay-up after a steal by Tony Parker sealed it.

Utah's big three line-up with Derrick Favors at power forward kept the Jazz close, but San Antonio's bench made the difference, outscoring the Jazz's reserves 47-10.

Top-seeded San Antonio advanced to the second round and awaits the winner of the Memphis-Los Angeles Clippers series, which may not be settled until Sunday.

The Spurs are on a 14-game winning streak and looking to make amends for a first-round upset by Memphis last year.

The Jazz have lost eight straight play-off games as they were swept by the Lakers in the second round two years ago. It was only the second first-round sweep in Jazz history, the other coming in 1989.

The young, inexperienced Jazz put up a fight at the end, but it was too little too late.

The Spurs won Game 1 by 15 points, Game 2 by 31 and Game 3 by 12, relying on MVP candidate Parker and the deepest bench in the league.

With Parker scoring 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting Monday, and starters Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green struggling offensively, the Spurs bench picked up the slack.

"We've been a deeper team this year than we usually are and it sure came in handy tonight," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Ginobili, who missed 32 games because of injury in the regular season, shot just 6 of 26 in the first three games but came up big when the Spurs needed him most.

Tim Duncan added 11 points and was the only other starter in double figures for the Spurs.

Stephen Jackson added 11 points and Tiago Splitter had 10 for the Spurs.

Jefferson led Utah with 26 points on 13-of-19 shooting, and had 10 rebounds.

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