Ginobili stars as Spurs take NBA Finals lead

15:30, Jun 17 2013
NBA Finals 2013: Spurs vs Heat
San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker, right, and Danny Green celebrate after defeating the Miami Heat to win Game One of the NBA Finals.
NBA Finals 2013: Spurs vs Heat
LeBron James of the Miami Heat drives past the Spurs defence.
NBA Finals 2013: Spurs vs Heat
San Antonio Spurs' Danny Green celebrates a three point basket against the Miami Heat.
NBA Finals 2013: Spurs vs Heat
The Miami Heat cheerleaders do their best to get the home support revved up for Game One of the NBA Finals.
NBA Finals 2013: Spurs vs Heat
Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade pushes his way towards the net.
LeBron James and Tiago Splitter
Miami's LeBron James denies San Antonio's Tiago Splitter at the rim in Game 2.
LeBron James
LeBron James throws down a vicious fourth-quarter dunk in the Game 2 rout.
LeBron James and Mike Miller
Mike Miller and LeBron James celebrate after a key play.
Manu Ginobili and Chris Andersen
San Antonio's Manu Ginobili is fouled by Chris 'Birdman' Andersen.
Spurs bench
The long faces of the Spurs' big-three (from left) Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in the fourth quarter.
NBA Finals 2013 gallery
San Antonio Spurs' Patty Mills celebrates during his team's win in Game 3.
NBA Finals 2013 gallery
Miami Heat's (left) LeBron James, Chris Andersen, and Norris Cole feel the pain of defeat in Game 3.
NBA Finals 2013 gallery
San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard puts in a dunk during Game 3.
NBA Finals 2013 gallery
Miami Heat's Chris Bosh (left) goes to the basket against San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard during Game 3.
Danny Green and Gary Neal
Danny Green and Gary Neal, who combined for 13 of the San Antonio Spurs' NBA Finals record 16 three-pointers in Game 3.
NBA Finals Series
Miami Heat's LeBron James hugs teammate Dwyane Wade after the Heat defeat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4.
NBA Finals series
San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker, left, and Tim Duncan look on during their team's defeat to the Miami Heat in Game 4.
NBA Finals series
Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade dunks against the San Antonio Spurs during Game 4.
Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade gets off a runner in the lane over Danny Green.
Chris Bosh
Miami's Chris Bosh muscles up a shot under defensive pressure from Tim Duncan.
NBA Finals Game 5
Chris Bosh of the Heat drives on the Spurs' Tim Duncan.
NBA Finals Game 5
Manu Ginobli of the Spurs goes for a lay-up on his way to 24 points.
NBA Finals Game 5
Tim Duncan goes high over Chris Bosh in Game 5.
NBA Finals Game 5
Danny Green reacts after nailing a three-pointer.
NBA Finals Game 5
LeBron James can't get through the Spurs defence as he attempts a lay-up in the Heat's Game 5 loss.
NBA Finals Game 5
High fives all round as the Spurs take Game 5 over the Heat and a 3-2 lead.
NBA Finals, Game 6
LeBron James of the Heat attempts a clock on the spurs' Tim Duncan.
NBA Finals, Game 6
LeBron James looks to make a move on defender Tony Parker.
NBA Finals, Game 6
Tony Parker goes for the lay up as the Heat's Chris 'Birdman' Andersen attempts the block.
NBA Finals, Game 6
A pumped up Tim Duncan reacts during Game 6.
NBA Finals, Game 6
Dwyane Wade appeals for a foul.
NBA Finals, Game 6
The Heat's Chris Bosh reacts to a call in the first half of Game 6.
NBA Finals, Game 6
Tim Duncan goes for a block on a Dwyane Wade slam.
NBA Finals 2013 - Spurs vs Heat
San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard drives to the net on Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers during the first quarter of Game 7.
NBA Finals 2013 - Spurs vs Heat
Miami Heat's Ray Allen is double teamed by San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, left, and Boris Diaw during Game 7.
NBA Finals 2013 - Spurs vs Heat
The pre-game show before the Miami Heat play the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals series.
NBA Finals 2013 - Spurs vs Heat
Miami Heat's LeBron James gestures to a teammate during Game 7.
2013 NBA Finals - Spurs vs Heat
San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan, left, tangles with Miami Heat's Shane Battier.
2013 NBA Finals - Spurs vs Heat
Shane Battier of the Miami Heat reacts after making a three-pointer in the fourth quarter.
2013 NBA Finals - Heat vs Spurs
From left: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Norris Cole of the Miami Heat celebrate their title win.

Manu Ginobili had 24 points and 10 assists in a surprise start to spark the San Antonio Spurs to a 114-104 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, pushing the Spurs one victory away from their fifth championship.

Danny Green scored 24 points and broke Ray Allen's finals record for 3 pointers in a series with 25. Tony Parker had 26 points for San Antonio.

LeBron James scored 25 points on 8-for-22 shooting for the Heat and Dwyane Wade had 25 points and 10 assists. But the Heat missed 21 of their first 29 shots to fall behind by 17 points in the second quarter of another uninspired performance.

Game 6 of the best-of-seven series is on Wednesday (NZT) in Miami.

Whirling through the defence like the Manu of old, Ginobili shrugged off a postseason full of disappointment to deliver a performance that the Spurs have never needed more desperately. He hit 8 of 14 shots and had his highest points total since June 4, 2012.

Tim Duncan had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Green was 6 for 10 from 3-point range, and Parker gutted through 36 minutes on that tender right hamstring. Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and eight rebounds, and the San Antonio shot 60 per cent to overcome 19 turnovers.

Allen scored 21 points and Chris Bosh had 16 points and six rebounds for the Heat, who were stunned by a vintage Ginobili performance early and never really recovered.

Miami missed 21 of its first 29 shots and Green hit three straight three-pointers in the middle of the second quarter to tie Allen's record of 22. The Spurs led 47-30 on Duncan's two free throws before the Heat finally showed some fight.

A 12-0 run got them back within striking distance at 47-42 and the Heat surged out of the halftime gates to cut San Antonio's lead to 61-59 in the first 1.17 of the third.

San Antonio pushed right back, getting a jumper from Parker, a three-pointer from Green that broke Allen's record and a lefty layup from Ginobili to get a little breathing room.

Ginobili closed the third with a twisting, off-balance, left-handed runner and a right-handed drive to the bucket to bring cheers of "Manu! Manu!" from the delirious crowd.

Nowhere to be found in the first four games, and for most of these playoffs, Ginobili had his fingerprints all over the opening of Game 5. He hit a step-back jumper, had two pretty assists on a backdoor cut from Green and a thunderous dunk from Duncan and knocked down two free throws for an early 9-4 lead.

Ginobili's three-pointer from the wing made it 15-10, bringing the nervous crowd to its feet. The awakening was a welcome sign for the Spurs, who desperately missed their playmaking daredevil.

The Heat reclaimed momentum in Game 4 thanks to a shuffle of the starting lineup by coach Erik Spoelstra, who moved sharp-shooter Mike Miller into the starting lineup in Udonis Haslem's place, giving Miami a smaller lineup that spaced the floor better and gave James and Wade room to operate.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made a move to match that on Sunday night, putting the struggling Ginobili in for center Tiago Splitter. Ginobili was averaging 7.5 points in the first four games and shooting 34 per cent. In the final year of his deal, the soon-to-be 36-year-old was asked about retirement on Saturday.

The crowd roared for Ginobili when he was introduced last, with one banner reading "We still Gino-believe!"

Wade had endured a similarly quiet start to these finals before erupting for 32 points and six steals in Miami's Game 4 victory that evened the series. That carried over to the opening quarter of Game 5, when Wade's assertive play helped Miami withstand Ginobili's initial haymaker.

Wade's trademark euro-step on the break and two free throws kept the game tight and James hit a three-pointer to tie it at 17 with under five minutes to play in the period.

The two teams entered Game 5 riding a pendulum of momentum that was swinging wildly back and forth over the previous three games. A classic, air-tight Game 1 victory by the Spurs gave way to three blowouts - Miami by 19 in Game 1, San Antonio by 36 in Game 3 and the Heat by 16 in Game 4.

The volatility made it difficult for either team to feel like it had a grip on expectations heading into the pivotal Game 5, but the Heat did appear to finally assert themselves with a dominant performance from their three All-Stars.

James, Wade and Bosh broke out of a series-long malaise to combine for 85 points, 30 rebounds and 10 steals, finally finding a way to get to the rim against the paint-clogging Spurs defense.

But for a team as talented and experienced as they are, these Heat have shown a maddening inconsistency over the last month. The team that won 27 straight during the regular season came into the game having going 11 straight games without winning two in a row.

There was so much more riding on this game for the Spurs than the Heat, who reclaimed homecourt advantage with their decisive victory in Game 4. Under the current 2-3-2 format that was adopted in 1985, no visiting team has won both Games 6 and 7 on the road in the finals.

And the Spurs played with more urgency from the start.

Now the Heat's backs are against the wall one more time. And it was Ginobili who put them there.

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AP