SAN ANTONIO — Manu Ginobili is trying to steal some of the headlines in Argentina from Messi today.
Ginobili was big part of the Spurs comeback from being down 14 early to lead by 6 at half. Manu did that with a personal 6-0 run at one point, on his way to 14 points at the half.
And he had this signature play of the game so far — the guy known for crafty, smart plays just powers through for the dunk over Chris Bosh.
“The last time I tried I got blocked by Caron Butler against OKC badly, and I was made fun of by my teammates in a rough way,” Ginobili said after the game. “They actually made me promise that I wasn’t going to try that again, and I said, yes, I won’t try that again.”
He did do it again, and it was spectacular.
Watch it from another angle.
SAN ANTONIO — You had to know the two-time defending champion Miami Heat had too much pride to just roll over. They were going to come out ready to defend their title down 3-1 and needing a win just to force a Game 6.
And they did — Miami played the best, most energized and aggressive defense they have played all playoffs, LeBron James came out on fire with 17 first quarter points and the Heat raced out to a 19-5 lead, the biggest lead the Heat have had all Finals.
But Miami has had spurts of great execution all season and through these Finals, the issue has been sustaining it against a relentless Spurs team.
They couldn’t. San Antonio climbed back, slowly at first behind Manu Ginobili (a 6-0 personal run at one point, a poster dunk on Chris Bosh later) and later with a 17-2 run sparked by Kawhi Leonard (15 first half points).
The Spurs lead 47-40 at the half and are 24 minutes from an NBA title.
This feels like a game San Antonio could just blow open in the third.
Miami has 20 points from LeBron on 6-of-12 shooting, they have 20 points on 7-of-22 shooting from everyone else. Numbers reminiscent of Game 4.
Ginobili had 14 for the Spurs, who shot 50 percent in the second quarter as they moved the ball and got good looks (the Heat sharp rotations from the opening six minutes were gone). The Heat shot 26.7 percent in the second.
San Antonio got 22 points from its bench in the first half, the Heat got 2. Not enough depth to sustain the energy levels Miami needs, but they need to find some way in the second half or this could get ugly.
LeBron James and the Heat came out playing with the desperate energy they needed a couple of games before — he started out with 15 points on 5-6 shooting, including a couple of threes.
And this defensive chase down block into the third row on Patty Mills. That should earn LeBron a tryout for USA Volleyball.
Miami’s defensive energy was much better to start the game and that got them a lead all the way up to 14 in the first quarter. The question with them is if they can sustain the energy.