San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 6

‘Devastated’ Manu Ginobili says he has no clue how Spurs will re-energize for Game 7

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MIAMI — After suffering a brutal Game 6 loss that the Spurs had every reason to believe would turn out in their favor, one of the team’s key veterans wasn’t exactly optimistic that they’ll find a way to bounce back emotionally in time for Thursday’s Game 7.

Manu Ginobili was the Game 5 hero for San Antonio, but he was unable to repeat that performance in this one. He had an especially rough go of things, finishing with just nine points in 35 minutes of action, while committing eight of San Antonio’s 15 turnovers, including one on his team’s final meaningful offensive possession.

“Manu will be good,” Tim Duncan said of his dejected teammate afterward. “He’ll be fine. He made some turnovers and some unfortunate plays, but honestly, the last play down the stretch there, it can go either way. We obviously believe it was a foul going down the middle. We get two free throws, and we’re talking about something different here, if that happens. So he’ll be just fine. He’ll blame himself and put it on himself; that just makes him more aggressive and more ready to play the next one.”

Ginobili was accountable for his play, just as Duncan had predicted.

“I had a very good game last game, and today I just couldn’t maintain it,” Ginobili said. “I was very insecure. I had a career high in turnovers in a really bad moment. It really helps to make me feel terrible. Even with all that, we were so close of winning it. So it’s one of the many things I’ll be thinking tonight.”

It isn’t all on Ginobili; in fact, far from it. Tony Parker was 6-of-23 from the field, despite making two big shots in a row to put the Spurs back on top near the end of regulation. Tim Duncan didn’t score in the fourth quarter or in overtime, despite finishing with 30 points and 17 rebounds on the strength of a 25-point first half performance.

And, LeBron James had plenty to say about things with a monster 16-point fourth quarter that helped him finish with a triple-double line of 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, while playing 50 of the game’s 53 minutes.

The Spurs were very, very close to a championship on this night, but couldn’t quite grasp it. They took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, and then left every ounce of effort on the floor before the Heat made an improbable and emotional comeback to stay alive.

With less than 48 hours until Game 7, it’s worth wondering if this loss might be too crushing to overcome, especially with all the momentum and the home court advantage now weighing heavily in Miami’s favor. Ginobili was taking it harder than most, and admitted that after a game like this, it will be be extremely difficult to respond.

“I have no clue how we’re going to be reenergized,” Ginobili said. “I’m devastated. But we have to. There’s no Game 8 afterwards. We’re going to have to play our best game, even better than today. Shoot better, better defense, less turnovers in my case, but, yeah. There’s no secret recipe for bouncing back.”

LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers passes while under pressure from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Tyronn Lue said Cavaliers-Warriors could eventually match Celtics-Lakers as a rivalry.

First, if you ask LeBron James, Cleveland-Golden State would have to become a rivalry at all.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon Cleveland.com:

“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”

“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”

Of course, Cavaliers-Warriors is a rivalry. These teams have met in the last two NBA Finals, played each other with relentless intensity, talked plenty of trash and remained elite.

LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.

Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)

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Andre Drummond is really good at these deep heaves.

His 3-point percentage (44%) is even better than his free-throw percentage (38%) the last two years, though that says too much about his work from the line.

Drummond wasn’t the only Pistons player converting to end quarters. Ish Smith and Tobias Harris also stepped up in the Pistons’ 102-97 win over the Lakers:

NBA: Suns got away with offensive foul before key points in win over Spurs

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker acknowledges a foul as San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker lies crumpled on the floor, in the second half of their regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Devin Booker scored 39 points in the Suns’ 108-105 win over the Spurs on Saturday in Mexico City.

But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:

Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.

That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.

The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.

Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to  the league:

Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.

But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.

Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.

Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)

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Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.

The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.

It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.