San Antonio takes 3-2 playoff lead.
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Manu Ginobili pulled off an astonishing last-gasp defensive block as the San Antonio Spurs dug deep to claim a 110-107 victory over the Houston Rockets in their Western Conference playoff series on Tuesday.
Kawhi Leonard – who limped off late in the game with an ankle injury – topscored for San Antonio with 22 points as the Spurs took a 3-2 lead in their best of seven series.
But it was Ginobili’s heroics in overtime – athletically denying James Harden as the Rockets star shaped for a game-tying three-pointer – that stole the show at San Antonio’s AT&T Center.
It was a superb clutch defensive play from the 39-year-old Argentinian, which gives the Spurs a precious lead as the series heads to Houston for Game 6 on Thursday.
“Manu reached back and gave us one of his Manu performances from past years. He was a stud,’’ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
“We went to him with Kawhi off the court and asked him to make some things happen, generate some offense. He did a good job, whether distributing or scoring – he was big for us,’’ added Popovich, praising his team’s defensive resilience after the loss of Leonard in a tense finale.
“Everybody pulled together and played some good defense, especially without Kawhi being out there. The competitiveness was just off the charts.”
But it was a frustrating night for Harden, who led the scoring for the Rockets with 33 points and a triple-double but was unable to provide his team with the breakthrough in overtime.
Harden made only four of 15 attempted three-pointers and crucially coughed up nine turnovers – including three in overtime.
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