It wasn’t a pretty game at the end, but it was an important one for Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs. In a tense, OT battle brought to the buzzer, it was Ginobili who wound back the clock and came up with a block on James Harden to save the win for the Spurs, 110-107.
Ginobili was the surprise of the game, seemingly coming out of nowhere after being nearly unplayable in the series against the Memphis Grizzlies. At one point to close the first half, Ginobili even split the defense to sky for a dunk.
Kawhi Leonard was spectacular, and the Spurs hung around the Rockets thanks to seemingly disjointed play on offense. San Antonio’s execution felt largely opportunistic, and mixed with Leonard’s strong play it allowed them to stay on top of the Rockets.
The second half was raucous, and San Antonio’s crowd was active all night. Danny Green hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the third quarter, sending the AT&T Center into a frenzy to start the fourth.
Houston couldn’t do much to pull away from the Spurs, as San Antonio seemed to steady down the stretch. Ginobili in particular was a nightmare for the Rockets to deal with, eventually completing a drive with 34.5 seconds left to tie the game at 101.
On the next possession, Harden drew an offensive foul by extending his arm on a drive against Jonathon Simmons, giving San Antonio the chance to win the game with 11 seconds to go.
Aching from what appeared to be an ankle injury sustained earlier in the game, Leonard sat on the sideline for the Spurs’ final play in regulation. That left it to Patty Mills, who had to isolate after Pau Gasol failed to come up and give him a screen as the clock wound down. Mills did happen to make a banked 3-pointer at the buzzer, but after review it was waived off, forcing the game to overtime.
OT was particularly ugly, and the first point wasn’t scored until 2 minutes to go in the extra period. Both teams looked confused, waiting until the shot clock ran down to isolate without running a full set.
Surprisingly it was Green who came through in the clutch for San Antonio. The veteran guard hit a 3-pointer with a minute left, then followed it up with a strong drive to the hole to give the Spur a 109-107 lead with 30 seconds left.
Houston piddled away late possessions, including a missed 3-pointer, a turnover that turned into a jump ball, and a final shot for Harden that Ginobili blocked:
Ginobili finished the night with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, adding seven rebounds, five assists, and the all-important block on Harden. Leonard dropped in 22 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Mills scored a playoff career-high 20 points.
For Houston, Harden led the way with 33 points on 11-of-24 shooting, adding 10 rebounds and 10 assists for yet another triple-double. Patrick Beverley contributed 20 points and four rebounds. Ryan Anderson added 19 points off the bench.
San Antonio now have a 3-2 series lead as they head back to Houston.