Australian Patty Mills has stepped up big again as the short-handed San Antonio Spurs clinched their NBA Western Conference semi-finals series with a commanding 114-75 win over Houston.
Starting at point guard in the absence of the injured Tony Parker, Mills had 14 points and seven assists before sitting out most of the final quarter as the Spurs closed out the series against the Rockets 4-2.
LaMarcus Aldridge top-scored with a season-high 34 points for San Antonio.
But it was a dirty night for Rockets superstar James Harden, who could manage only 10 points on two-from-11 shooting.
The Spurs were without star duo Parker (quad) and MVP contender Kawhi Leonard (ankle) as they advanced to the Western Conference finals against Golden State.
Leonard is expected to be fit for game one away to the Warriors on Sunday (Monday AEST), but Parker won't return to action until next season.
Mills had a career playoffs-high 20 points in the game-five win against the Rockets earlier this week and was again a major factor on Thursday, shooting six-of-10 from the field.
"Everyone is on the same page on what we're trying to achieve," said Mills.
"Everyone seems to find another level when it comes to the playoffs.
"We didn't rush.
We didn't give them a chance to find their rhythm or get their crowd involved in the game.
"We just took control of the pace offensively and played really solid defence."
Mills was one of six Spurs' players in double figures, headed by centre Aldridge, the unheralded Jonathon Simmons (18) and Mills.
"Patty controlled everything really well ... everyone contributed and it was a real team effort," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs led by 19 points at halftime and kept extending their advantage throughout the second half as they advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time since winning the title in 2014.
Trevor Ariza led Houston with 20 points.
Houston, who relied on their 3-point shooting to get this far, couldn't make shots from long-range, going 13 of 40.
The Rockets also had trouble scoring in general, making just 28.6 per cent (22 of 77) of their shots overall.
When there was about four minutes left, large chunks of empty seats filled the arena dotted by pockets of San Antonio supporters who stood and cheered while the remaining Rockets fans sat dejected.