Tony Parker scored 37 points in his best playoff performance this season to lead San Antonio back to the finals for the first time in six years.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The San Antonio Spurs are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since they won their last championship back in 2007, and this trip feels even more special for a team counted out as too old to contend anymore.

Tony Parker scored 37 points in his best game this postseason, and the San Antonio Spurs finished off a sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night with a 93-86 win in the Western Conference final.

“It’s a great feeling,” Parker said as he sat with the Western Conference trophy perched in front of him.

“Since last year, I promised Tim (Duncan) we would go back to the Finals and get an opportunity to win the whole thing, and trying to do my best to be aggressive every night. I think everybody on the team, we really want to do it for him.”

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The Spurs have won six straight in these playoffs after handing two straight losses to a team that had been undefeated on their own court in their best postseason in franchise history. Memphis finished off its best season ever by getting swept by the very same franchise that only needed four games to knock them out of their first playoff appearance back in 2004.

Parker hit 15 of 21 and all six at the free-throw line, earning the Spurs and Duncan plenty of rest before Game 1 of the Finals on June 6.

“He’s been amazing,” Duncan said of Parker. “Every year he gets better and better and better. He’s been carrying us. “

Duncan hugged Manu Ginobili before heading off the court, celebrating the chance at a title that slipped away a year ago when the Spurs blew a 2-0 lead to Oklahoma City losing four straight. The 37-year-old Duncan finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.

“We want to get back there,” Duncan said of making the finals. “We’ve had some really close years where we fell right on the verge of getting back. It feels like forever since we’ve been there.”

Memphis was led by former UW star Quincy Pondexter, who had a career-high 22 points off the bench.

“We learned that winning isn’t easy and winning championships is one of the hardest things you can possibly do,” Pondexter said. “I think our guys really dug deep to get as far as we did, and San Antonio’s a tremendous team. We’re going to take a couple pages out of their book.”


• The Charlotte Bobcats hired Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford to replace Mike Dunlap as head coach. Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Monday that Clifford had agreed to a three-year contact.

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