Manu Ginobili gets a lot of negative comments because he is 39 years old and is a little “old” for professional basketball. He’s the second-oldest basketball player in the league right now. To put things in perspective, when Ginobili was drafted by the Spurs, James Harden was just 10 years old. He sure shut up all those haters last night, though.
Manu was playing like he was young again. Charles Barkley said it was a “vintage game” for Ginobili. Coach Pop even called him a “stud” – saying he “reached back and gave us one of his Manu performances from past years.” In fact, we could’ve lost Game 5 to the Rockets if it wasn’t for his block at the buzzer. Here’s what happened during last night’s nail-biting Game 5 against the Rockets:
The game was off to an aggressive start with crazy energy on both sides of the court. The Rockets were able to bring out the Spurs’ famous playing style. The Spurs were pounding the ball on the inside early in the game. With Tony Parker out, the Spurs have been needing to fill in the gaps without him and started Patty Mills in his place. The Spurs tried to exploit a size advantage over the Rockets’ small lineup, especially when Harden was guarding either Aldridge and Gasol.
Ginobili hit a slam dunk in the second quarter, and even all of his teammates stood up and joined the crowd in going crazy. This was just the beginning of his epic game. For the remainder of the first half, the Spurs and Rockets were neck and neck – but that lasted through the entire game.
During the third quarter, Kawhi Leonard hurt his left ankle by stepping on Harden’s foot while running back in transition, but he decided to play through it. With just about 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Spurs and Rockets were tied with 101 points. To make it even more nail-biting, Kawhi Leonard was on the bench because his ankle started bothering him. Leonard had 22 points and 15 rebounds in 38 minutes before taking the bench to rest his ankle. At the very last second, Patty Mills shot a three to win the game – or at least we though he did. Turns out, the ball was still barely in his hands when the clock hit 0, so it didn’t count!
When Gasol came off the court, Coach Pop was screaming at him because he failed to set a screen for Mills during the final play. After the game, Gasol said he read the play wrong. “It was tough because when they put a small on you, you have a tendency to go in. I saw a switch, but I should have stayed up because (Patrick) Beverley went with LaMarcus and we could have played off that. I made a bad, bad read on that play.”
The game was headed into overtime, and Leonard was still out on the bench. Danny Green scored 7 of his 16 points in overtime. Green said that with Leonard out, they all had to stay aggressive and weren’t going to be on their heels and risk losing. Leonard said, “It was frustrating because I wanted to play, but I was happy seeing my teammates out there putting in a good effort and getting the win.”
With just 9 seconds left, it was a jump ball that landed in the Rockets’ hands. In the last few seconds, Harden got a hold of the ball, went for the three, and Ginobili smacked the ball right out of his hands from behind! Manu Ginobili! The Spurs finished the game 110-107 and are leading 3-2. Luckily, Leonard has confirmed that we can catch him out on the court in Game 6.
So what happened for the Rockets?
Harden played solid defense and held Aldridge and Leonard to 15-42 shooting as he rotated assignments. In the final 5 minutes of regulation and overtime, he only had 4 points on 1-for-6 shooting and four turnovers. We all thought Harden probably just overexerted himself too soon, but he says that he just missed some shots. Even though he could’ve scored higher, he still led his team with 33 points.
This loss means that the Rockets will have to win the next two games in order to avoid elimination. Even though Game 6 will be on the Rockets’ home court, Game 7 will be back in San Antonio. Witness history with the best seats in the house. Get your Spurs tickets here