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Ginobili’s aggressive play drives Spurs to victory over Heat (+video)

Manu Ginobili's double-double led the San Antonio Spurs to a 114-104 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

By Christopher HartmanCorrespondent / June 17, 2013

San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili, left, of Argentina, looks to pass against Miami Heat forward Mike Miller during the fourth quarter of Game 5 in the NBA Finals in San Antonio on Sunday, June 16, 2013.

David Santiago, El Nuevo Herald/AP

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Manu Ginobili had 24 points and 10 assists, and Danny Green (24 points) hit six 3-pointers – giving him a Finals series record total of 25 threes – as the San Antonio Spurs pulled away from the Miami Heat, 114-104, in a critical fifth game of the NBA Finals Sunday night in San Antonio’s AT&T Center.

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Dwyane Wade and LeBron James of the Miami Heat comment on the Spurs' win in Game 5 of the NBA Finals Sunday night.

Ginobili, who was struggling for much of this series, got the starting nod from coach Gregg Popovich – who decided to go small to start, benching big man Tiago Splitter – and it paid off big. Tony Parker was also playing an inspired game, hitting for 26 points on 10-14 from the field, with he and Ginobili hitting circus shots from both the perimeter and inside – in the case of the latter, the Spurs outscored the Heat on drives down the lane, 45-33.

As a whole, the Spurs hit 60% of their field goals, and that was able to sustain them through a number of Heat resurgences in the third and fourth quarters. The Heat, though they were able to close the gap to within one point with three minutes left in the third, never led in the game. The Spurs closed out the period with a 12-1 run that helped them pull away for good.

The Spurs attacked the glass relentlessly, and it brought dividends: 50 points in the paint as opposed to 40 for the Heat. And though they gave up 20 points on 19 turnovers for the game, the fact that all five San Antonio starters scored solidly in double figures – Tim Duncan had another double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard netted 16 points to go with 8 rebounds and 3 steals – negated the effects of the turnovers, which have continued to plague the Spurs in the Finals.

And as Leonard was effective in helping keep the Heat’s LeBron James under 20 points per game scoring in previous contests, the Spurs’ Boris Diaw gave James fits in this one – holding him to only 8-of-22 shooting from the field.

The Miami Heat got a strong night from their starting 'Big Three,' with James and Dwyane Wade each scoring 25 points, and Chris Bosh, who had 16. However, they got little help from their back court, with specialists Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers scoring a combined 7 points in 32 minutes of court time. But the bright spot off the bench was Ray Allen, who was 7-of-10 from the floor for 21 points, and also entered the Finals record books with two highly unusual 4-point plays.

The game was intense, with bodies hitting the floor regularly, and lots of contact under the baskets; but it was just the sort of game that San Antonio thrives on at home – spreading the floor on offense, and taking Miami out of their transition scoring and half-court defense to press into the paint – along with the occasional drive and kick-out for a three-pointer. For instance, with 4 seconds left in the half, Tony Parker ran right through the Miami defenders to make what was basically an uncontested layup as the buzzer sounded.

Spurs Coach “Pop” Povovich, in huddle after huddle, set the tone by imploring his team to get physical: that it was a “big boy” game, and asserting he wanted lots of “aggression and physicality.” Ginobili and Parker took this to heart, and with Ginobili defying his age with remarkable offensive production (he either scored or assisted on the first six San Antonio possessions), it helped gain the club the necessary momentum in the first quarter (which San Antonio won, 32-19) to carry the Spurs through to the win.

Game 6 is back in Miami on Tuesday night.  

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