PHOENIX -- The San Antonio Spurs no longer have to worry about being on the wrong side of playoff history -- or facing Amare Stoudemire.
All they have to think about now is trying to win another NBA championship.
Tim Duncan had 31 points and 15 rebounds and the Spurs' defense keyed a game-changing 18-4 third-quarter run, giving them enough of a cushion to hold off Stoudemire and the Phoenix Suns with a 101-95 victory last night that ended the Western Conference finals in five games.
San Antonio led, 3-0, before losing Game 4 at home and certainly didn't want to go home for a Game 6 with the Suns halfway to pulling off a comeback that's unprecedented in NBA history, but fresh in the mind of all sports fans after the Boston Red Sox did it last October.
The victory gives Duncan's aching ankles and Manu Ginobili's bumps and bruises plenty of time to heal while San Antonio waits to find out whether it will next face Miami or Detroit.
The Heat and Pistons are tied 2-2 with Game 5 tonight in Miami.
The final round will start June 9, and the Spurs, who won it all in 1999 and 2003, will be the home team regardless.
Stoudemire almost kept the Suns' fabulous season alive by scoring 17 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter, several of them on the powerful dunks that have become his calling card.
Stoudemire's 37-points-per-game average in this series broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record for a conference finals first-timer and he set the club record for consecutive playoff games with at least 30 points, accomplishing the feat in all five.