SAN ANTONIO, May 17 (Ticker) --
After moving Manu Ginobili
the starting lineup, the San Antonio Spurs are on the verge of
finishing off the Seattle SuperSonics.
Ginobili scored a playoff career-high 39 points and helped
contain Ray Allen
as the Spurs pulled away for a 103-90 victory
over the SuperSonics in the pivotal fifth game of their Western
Conference semifinal series.
NBA TV highlights from |
Ginobili teamed with Nazr Mohammed
to score all of the points in
a decisive run that opened the third quarter and gave the
sporadic Spurs the lead for good - and control of the series.
"I know it was important to be aggressive and be contagious and
show the crowd that we were here to play," Ginobili said.
An All-Star for the first time this season, Ginobili agreed to
come off the bench after San Antonio lost its playoff opener
against Denver at home. The move sparked the Spurs to six
But after losing a pair of games in Seattle that evened this
series, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich
moved Ginobili back
into the starting lineup. The Argentine responded by making
10-of-15 shots and 15-of-17 free throws.
"I was just concerned about bringing a lot of energy and it
didn't matter whether I started or if I came in six minutes into
the game," Ginobili said.
"A variety of things (contributed to the decision)," Popovich said. "Just basically I thought it was time."
Ginobili also had six assists, forcing Allen to work on defense.
With Bruce Bowen
hounding Allen at the other end, the All-Star
guard of the SuperSonics scored just four points in the second
half, finishing with 19.
"Ray got away from us in Seattle and we got him under a little
better control tonight," Popovich said. "We were fortunate in
that regard and that set the tone for us. Manu and Bruce were
aggressive and they led the way for us tonight."
"They helped each other out on the pick-and-roll and my
opportunities for shots came in small gaps," said Allen, who
made 8-of-19 shots. "Some of them fell, some didn't, but when my
shots not falling, that's why I have teammates."
After a scoreless first quarter punctuated by two fouls, Allen
scored 15 points in the second period, when the Sonics rallied
from a nine-point deficit for a 50-50 halftime tie.
However, Ginobili and Mohammed took charge in the third quarter,
combining for San Antonio's first 20 points. Mohammed scored a
playoff career-high 19 points.
"I have to give Manu a lot of credit for getting into the lane,
threading the needle, drawing the defense and finding me,"
"Nazr played a great game for us tonight," Popovich said. "He
found the spots that were left open. He went to the right spots
tonight to receive the ball, and I thought guys shared the ball
real well. His aggressiveness at the offensive end was real
important for us."
Mohammed scored nine points in the surge and Ginobili had 11,
including a 3-pointer and three free throws that opened a 70-55
lead with 6:31 to go.
"It's important for me to make a couple of threes," Ginobili
said. "It opens it up for me and makes it a lot easier to
"When he (Ginobili) wasn't scoring, he was getting to the
free-throw line," Sonics coach Nate McMillan
said. "A couple of
times we kept him out and he knocked down a three."
The Sonics closed to 82-75 early in the fourth quarter before
Ginobili made two foul shots to reverse the momentum.
He added a driving finger roll, a feed to Robert Horry
dunk and a beautiful behind-the-back move that led to a flagrant
foul on Damien Wilkins
and two free throws for a 95-81
advantage with 4:22 left.
"The best players play with a lot of heart and will and they
bring everybody else with them," Popovich said. "Manu does that
had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the second-seeded
Spurs, who can reach the conference finals for the first time
since their 2003 championship season with a win at Seattle on
scored 17 points and Nick Collison
added 14 for
the Sonics, who again played without Rashard Lewis
All-Star forward missed his second straight game with a sprained
left big toe suffered near the end of 3.
"Now every game is a must win," Daniels said. "This Game 6 is
going to test our character, our heart and our camaraderie."