San Antonio guard Tony Parker (left) of France attempts an off balance shot as Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors defends during the first half of Game 4 in the first-round NBA playoff series on Monday in Salt Lake City. The Spurs won 87-81 to reach the next round. Colin E Braley / Associated Press
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich shrugged when asked about Manu Ginobili's mini-shooting slump.
"I don't even think about it. He's Manu," he said.
True to form, the Spurs' invaluable sixth man led the charge off the bench when San Antonio needed it most.
He hit consecutive 3-pointers after the Utah Jazz had pulled within 61-58 late in the third quarter in Game 4 of the first-round Western Conference series.
And after the Jazz rallied from 21 points down to get within four in the final minute, Ginobili turned a steal by Tony Parker into a layup that sealed an 87-81 victory and series sweep.
"I wasn't making many shots, but I wasn't taking that many either," said Ginobili, who was 0 for 8 from 3-point range in the first three games but had three on Monday and finished with a team-high 17 points. "I really wasn't that worried. I was happy that the team was playing as well as we were. We were 3-0 and winning those games with authority."
The top-seeded Spurs advanced to the conference semifinals against the winner of the Memphis-Los Angeles Clippers series that could go until Sunday.
It was the West's second first-round sweep as Oklahoma City eliminated defending champion Dallas in four games.
The Spurs won Game 1 by 15 points, Game 2 by 31 and Game 3 by 12, relying on Parker, their MVP candidate, and the deepest bench in the league.
Parker had 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting, Tim Duncan added 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting, and starters Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Danny Green combined for a total of eight points. The Spurs' bench picked up the slack, outscoring Utah's reserves 57-10 and finishing with 27 more points than their own starters.
"We've been a deeper team this year than we usually are and it sure came in handy tonight," Popovich said.
Facing elimination, the Jazz started their Big 3 lineup, with Derrick Favors at power forward, Al Jefferson at center and Paul Millsap moving to small forward.
After a slow start, they made a difference, with Favors registering impressive blocks on Parker and Tiago Splitter and dominating the boards.
It was the first game of the series that Utah held an advantage in the paint (34-30). Its trio of bigs combined for 52 points, 39 rebounds and 5 blocks, with a resurgent Devin Harris added 19 points, 7 assists and one crowd-pleasing block of Parker's fast-break layup attempt.