Lakers eclipsed by the Suns
Victories for Phoenix and San Antonio set up a second round NBA play-off clash.
Last Modified: 03 May 2007 09:40 GMT
San Antonio's Tony Parker on
his way to the next round [Reuters]
The San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns will meet in the second round of the NBA western conference play-offs after they saw off the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers respectively on Wednesday night.

The Spurs beat Denver 93-78 to win the best of seven series 4-1 while the Suns' 119-110 victory saw them through by the same margin.
Michael Finley was the star performer for the Spurs scoring 26 points, including a team play-off record eight three-pointers.

He was ably assisted by Tim Duncan with 23 points and 12 rebounds and Tony Parker, who chipped in with 16 points and 10 assists.

It is the eight successive time the Spurs have negotiated the first round of the play-offs successfully and after losing game one they beat the Nuggests in four straight games.

"Obviously, we're thrilled with the win against a very good  basketball team that is very, very difficult to guard for a lot of  reasons," Gregg Popvich, the Spurs coach, said.

The Spurs will now face the second seeded Suns who beat the  Lakers 119-110 to wrap up their series.

The Stoudmaster

In Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire led the way with 29 points and 17 rebounds for  the Suns.

Shawn Marion had 26 points while Steve Nash added eight assists.

Leandro Barbosa scored 18 points coming off the bench for Phoenix.

Despite a comfortable series lead coming into the game, a win was imperative for Phoenix to avoid an arduous trip to  Los Angeles for game six.

Kobe Bryant top scored for the Lakers with 34 points but the team have not been past the opening round since 2004, when they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

"It is tough losing, extremely frustrating," Bryant, who was the league’s top scorer during the regular season, said."It was difficult season. The second half was hard. We manage to get through a difficult stretch and find ourselves in playoffs."

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