“You can’t stop everything,” Parker said. “They are still trapping me and doubling Timmy, and Danny is wide open. If you are going to leave Danny wide open, he’s going to make threes.”
The series that defied all notions of momentum and the only consistent theme since a close Game 1 has been lopsided results. Game 5 represented the fourth consecutive game decided by at least 10 points.
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) - Manu Ginobili had his best game of the NBA postseason, scoring 24 points and dishing out 10 assists in San Antonio’s victory in Game 5.
Ginobili had scored a total of 30 points through the first four games, and his struggles were so glaring that he admitted he has contemplated retirement. Ginobili no longer seemed capable of herky-jerky dribble drives, off-balanced floaters and leaners as he dealt with a hamstring injury that has slowed him down throughout the postseason.
Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich inserted his ace sixth man into the starting lineup, and the move quickly paid dividends as Ginobili made a three-pointer and nearly matched his scoring average for the series with seven points in the first quarter. The Argentine took over the game in the third period, scoring or assisting on nine points during a 12-1 flurry that turned a one-point game into an 87-75 lead that essentially knocked out the Heat.
Ginobili ended the period by staring down Heat reserve Norris Cole, driving around him and stepping back to hit a fadeaway shot off the glass to put the Spurs ahead, 87-75. Fans serenaded Ginobili as the team headed to the bench.
“I needed it,” Ginobili said of the chants. “I was having a tough time scoring, and I needed to feel like the game was coming to me.”
With Ginobili taking on some of the playmaking responsibilities, Parker was able to focus on scoring and holding off any insurgence from the Heat. Parker said he didn’t have “enough juice” in his leg but still closed the half with a driving, reverse layup to give the Spurs a nine-point lead. And after Wade made a free throw to cut a 20-point deficit down to eight in the 1:37 remaining, Parker again put the game out of reach with a driving layup.
“You just go play Game 6. There is no magic to it,” Popovich said. “It’s basketball. It’s not complicated. Both teams will compete their fannies off. Players will play well or poorly. Coaches will try to help them as much as possible, and the best team will end up winning.”