HOUSTON -- LaMarcus Aldridge posted a double-double, and the short-handed San Antonio Spurs rolled into the Western Conference finals with a 114-75 victory over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night at Toyota Center.
The Spurs claimed the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal in six games by blitzing the Rockets despite both Tony Parker (torn left quadriceps) and Kawhi Leonard (sore left ankle) being out with injuries. Aldridge was the linchpin, posting 34 points and 12 rebounds, but he had plenty of help as the Spurs set up a date opposite the Golden State Warriors.
Jonathon Simmons added 18 points in place of Leonard, while Patty Mills chipped in 14 points and seven assists. Pau Gasol paired 10 points with 11 boards for San Antonio, which trailed 5-4 in the first quarter before rolling to victory.
Not only were the Rockets a sieve defensively, allowing the Spurs to shoot 53.1 percent, but they were helpless on the boards and inept on offense. San Antonio compiled a 60-37 rebounding advantage and limited Houston to 28.6 percent shooting.
Rockets guard James Harden, a league MVP candidate, was a nonfactor as Houston faced elimination. Harden, who finished second in scoring during the season at 29.1 points per game, did not attempt a shot until the 6:19 mark of the second quarter. He closed the first half with as many points as turnovers (five each), and his two field-goal attempts at the intermission were fewer than 15 of the 16 players who participated before the break.
Leading 31-24 entering the second, the Spurs levied the knockout blow with a 19-3 run fueled largely by reserves. While Mills and Simmons, starters by default due to injuries, were on the court, they were flanked by David Lee, Dejounte Murray and Kyle Anderson during a 13-0 run that built the lead to 44-26.
When the Spurs opened the second half with an 8-1 burst sparked by six points from Aldridge, the advantage ballooned to 26 points. San Antonio led by as many as 42 points in the second half, administering a thorough beating before a rapidly thinning crowd.
NOTES: Spurs F Kawhi Leonard hopes to return to action Sunday for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at Golden State. ... The Rockets had been 3-0 against San Antonio in postseason series, winning in the first round in 1980, the conference semifinals in 1981, and the conference finals in 1995. ... The Spurs improved to 16-3 when taking a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series. ... Houston fell to 7-5 when facing elimination since G James Harden joined the franchise in 2012-13.