Spurs on brink of title as Manu Ginobili sparks San Antonio to Game 5 victory
Ray Allen scored 21 points on the night for the Heat as he watched Green shatter his finals 3-point record. Green has 25 3s in the series. Allen made 22 3-pointers in six games in 2008 finals for Boston.
Chris Bosh scored 16 for Miami, Wade had 10 assists, and James had eight assists and six rebounds, but it was their defense that let the Heat down in this one.
The Heat were within one with 3:05 left in the third before Green hit yet another 3-pointer and Ginobili followed with the stretch that turned the game into the fourth straight blowout of the finals.
The crafty lefty plays with a flair developed on the courts of Argentina and perfected in Europe before coming to the NBA. He sees angles other players can't and takes risks few others would, but his style has been the perfect fit alongside Duncan and Parker.
He converted a three-point play, tossed in a floater with his left hand as he drifted right, and found Tiago Splitter under the hoop with a pass to make it 85-74. He flipped in another runner with 2.9 seconds to go, sending the Spurs to the fourth with an 87-75 lead as fans chanted "Manu! Manu!" during the break between the third and fourth quarters.
Ginobili had been averaging just 7.5 points on 34.5 percent shooting in the series, making only three of his 16 3-point attempts. But Popovich made the finals' second lineup change in two games, after the Heat inserted Mike Miller to start Game 4.
Ginobili didn't make a start this season and certainly hadn't been playing like someone who belonged with the first five. But in the Spurs' biggest game of the season, they remained confident he would break out, and they were right.
"I knew that I was not scoring much and I felt it in the air. But I tried not to care about it. I know I'm critical enough of myself to be worrying about what other people say," Ginobili said.
It was the first time he scored 24 or more points since having 34 on June 4, 2012, against Oklahoma City, according to STATS.
The AT&T Center crowd roared when Ginobili was the last starter announced, the cheers growing louder when he made a jumper — originally ruled a 3-pointer but later overturned by replay — on the first possession. He assisted on the Spurs' next three baskets, and it was 15-10 when he later hit a 3 that did count.
Parker picked it up from there, dancing his way into the lane repeatedly and scoring seven points in a 12-0 run that made it 29-17. Leonard's 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left, on an assist from Ginobili, made it 32-19 and gave the Spurs 12 makes in 19 attempts (63 percent) in the opening 12 minutes.
Green's third straight 3-pointer made it 45-28 about 5 minutes into the second quarter, and it seemed the trend of blowouts would continue. But James suddenly got rolling during a 14-2 Miami spurt that cut it to five on his third consecutive Heat basket.
San Antonio made 21 of 34 shots (62 percent) in the first half, opening a 61-52 lead on Parker's drive with 0.4 seconds left.
Miami then ran off eight in a row to start the second half and get within one. They cut it to one again later in the period before Ginobili led the flurry that finished the Heat for good.
It was a fitting finish if it was the last home game in the finals for San Antonio's star trio, which has combined for 101 playoff victories together. Ginobili has said he might think about retirement as he turns 36 next month, and Duncan is 37.
Both coaches said it was difficult waiting two days between games — Popovich said it was "like death" — though he did say it was great for the Spurs because they have some older players.
The break seemed to help his team early, particularly Parker, whose energy sagged in the second of Game 4 as he struggled with a strained hamstring that he said could tear at any time and would've had him sidelined during the regular season.
If things fall right for the Spurs, he'll have plenty of time to heal after Tuesday.
Notes: The last team to lose Game 5 of a 2-2 series and then win the title was the Los Angeles Lakers, when they beat Boston in 2010. ... The Spurs said Sunday that reserve guard Patty Mills had surgery to remove an abscess Friday and would miss the rest of the series. Mills had an infection in his right foot and the abscess developed between his fourth and fifth toes.
Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney
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