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There aren’t many more of these left in him, but 39-year old Manu Ginobili delivered when the San Antonio Spurs needed him most.
Ginobili scored 12 points, tallied 7-rebounds and 5-assists in securing a Game Five victory for the Spurs, 110-107 in OT on Tuesday night. His stat line though belies the important role he played in being a calming, familiar presence for the Spurs down the stretch of the game.
If basketball is about cohesion on offense, then the Spurs were sputtering in overtime.
Tony Parker is the team’s primary ball handler down the stretch of games, and when he is not, it’s Kawhi Leonard. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had neither available late in the fourth and into overtime, which means he had to call upon a 39-year old Manu Ginobili to help organize and manufacture offense.
If Ginboili saved the game it was LaMarcus Aldridge, the team’s second best player, that proved the reason they won.
The Spurs and Rockets are a a clash of styles. The Spurs run an old-school, plodding, big man style of basketball, while the Rockets are small-ball, with a heavy dosage of threes.
LaMarcus Aldridge made James Harden work on the low block all game. Aldridge only ended up with 18 points on 21 shots, but he was the reason the Rockets offense stagnated in overtime. Harden, who expended energy all game in the low post, was gassed when it came down to winning time.
The Spurs now head to Houston in need of one more win to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2014, the year they won their fifth title.
Remember to catch Ari Temkin live after every Spurs playoff game on FANTOM.