It’s no secret that Manu Ginóbili is in the twilight of a Hall of Fame career. At 39 years old, Ginóbili was the second-oldest player in the NBA this season, behind only Vince Carter. His 7.5 points per game were a career low. He didn’t score at all in the first four games of the playoffs in the San Antonio Spurs’ opening round series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Just when it looked like Ginóbili was finally washed up, he turned in a vintage performance to key the Spurs’ improbable 110-107 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 5 on Tuesday night. Ginóbili made the biggest play of the night to help San Antonio grab a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Spurs looked like they were in serious trouble when Kawhi Leonard exited the game with an ankle injury at the end of regulation. Instead, Danny Green hit the two biggest shots of the night and Ginóbili made a signature defensive play to seal the win.
The Rockets had the ball, down three on the final possession, when James Harden wiggled his way out of a trap to get a clean look at a three-pointer. Harden had no one in front of him to contest the shot, but he didn’t see Ginóbili behind him. Ginóbili blocked the shot and was mobbed by teammates after the game:
Ginóbili didn’t just make one big play at the end of the game. He helped pace the Spurs’ offense throughout the night, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
The Spurs had to know Ginóbili was poised for a big game when he tore through the Rockets’ defense for a huge dunk in the second quarter. This is only Ginóbili’s third dunk of the season, but it came at an ideal time.
Like ESPN’s Zach Lowe said:
Manu’s always there when you need him
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 10, 2017
Ginóbili has been delivering clutch postseason performances for San Antonio for 14 years. He gave the Spurs one more when they needed it most.