The San Antonio Spurs advanced to the NBA western conference final with a 114-106 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game Six of their seven-game playoff series in San Antonio on Friday, giving them an unassailable 4-2 lead.
Guard Manu Ginobili had 33 points and 11 rebounds, Tony Parker added 30 points, and forward Tim Duncan scored 24 points for San Antonio, who will now face the Utah Jazz with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.
"It was a hard fought game of good basketball," Duncan said.
"We didn't want to see it go one more game.
"We were fortunate to have an excellent third quarter and time just ran out on them."
The Spurs, who have won three titles since 1999, will be making their first trip to the championship series since lifting the trophy in 2005.
The Suns, who trailed by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter, did not go down without a fight and attempted a furious comeback in the final period, outscoring the Spurs 39-33, but fell short as they could not string together enough quality defensive possessions down the stretch.
Phoenix got as close 106-101 on Shawn Marion's follow jam with 34 seconds left, but it was too little, too late in a series of disappointing losses for the Suns in the best-of-seven match-up.
"I don't know what to say it is a difficult loss and to finish the season like this," said Phoenix guard Steve Nash.
After a stirring Game Four victory on the road, the Suns were in the unenviable position of playing a pivotal Game Five at home without two of their key performers, including Amare Stoudemire, a member of the All-NBA first team.
Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended for Game Five for leaving the bench during a scuffle late in the previous game, after Spurs forward Robert Horry committed a cheap shot that sent Nash sprawling into the scorer's table.
"Not having two players taken away from us for a game would have helped," Nash said.
"I hate talking about getting it done next year. We didn't get it done, at the same time we didn't get any favours.
"To come this far and be without two key guys in game five we will forever haunt us. I don't want to cry about it after the fact."
Horry also scuffled with Suns guard Raja Bell, resulting in a two-game suspension for the 15-year veteran as tensions continued to rise between the two squads.
Ginobili was the second player to suffer a battle scar in Game Three as he was scraped just beneath his right eye, leaving him with a nasty bruise, while Nash suffered a deep cut to his nose in Game One.
The two-time MVP's nose bled profusely in the latter stages of the contest, forcing the Suns to keep him off the floor during crunch time.
Game One of the western conference finals will be in San Antonio on Sunday.