San Antonio Spurs 113, Denver Nuggets 112: Manu Ginobili Sheela na Gig


Manu Ginobili is not a basketball player. He’s an exhibitionist. And so far this this season what he is showing-off is worthy of MVP consideration.

For the second consecutive game, Ginobili pushed the Spurs to victory with ballsy, buzzer-beating heroics. Wednesday Ginobili fueled the Spurs with a spectacular, legal-upon-review step-back jump shot. But that was just a tease. What Manu Ginobili did last night we’ll never see again.


Never again.

But we’ll fantasize about something like it during boring 4th quarters and the timeouts of not-so-boring nail-biters. Manu Ginobili did something we’ll always want to see again, but never will.

Manu’s show began with a common strut. The Spurs had battled back from double-digit first half deficits to take a 85-84 lead into the 4th quarter, which Ginobili started on the bench, gathering wind, drinking kill juice.

Ginobili entered the game with 10:38 remaining in the quarter, and immediately put the Nuggets on notice. Over the next four minutes, Ginobili put together a personal 7-0 run on the Nuggets, and then, after Denver managed to respond, Manu dished a pair of assists on a beautiful screen-and-roll to Tim Duncan and three-ball kick to Matt Bonner.

The Spurs took a 102-93 advantage into a full timeout with 6:13 remaining in the game. But it was George Karl, not Gregg Popovich, whose team came out of the huddle with the goods. Denver played tough basketball down the back half of the 4th quarter, narrowing the score to 109-108.

Ginobili responded with a drive to the hoop that drew a foul from Gary Forbes. Manu iced the free throws, leaving the Spurs with a 111-108 lead and 16 seconds remaining in the game.

This game could have spent its last breaths on a boring exchange of free throws, and on most ho-hum nights it would have. But the Spurs defense crumbled a little, and on the following possession the Spurs gave up a dunk to Carmelo Anthony. 111-110.

Immediately after the basket, Antonio McDyess flubbed an in-bounds pass to Manu Ginobili. The ball ricocheted off Ginobili’s chest and head and popped into the waiting arms of Carmelo Anthony. The easy layup off the inbound steal took the game to 111-112, seven seconds remaining.

And this is when Manu Ginobili got all ridiculous. Showing off, as it were. The peacock spreading his fan.

Gregg Popovich drew up a nice side inbound after the Melo steal and layup. Pop ran three men toward the sideline, and Ginobili toward the hoop. Guess who received the inbound pass?

Ginobili caught the ball, split two defenders, and orchestrated a weird off the glass shot that bounced in and out before finally surrendering to the hoop. 113-112, Denver timeout, four seconds remaining.

Out of the timeout, Carmelo Anthony took the inbound pass straight to the hoop. Easy score.

Well it should have been an easy score, if not for Manu Ginobili drawing a textbook perfect charge on Anthony. Really, it’s true. Ginobili forced the refs into calling a charge as time expired. They had no choice. It was so obviously a charge. It was so obviously well-played by Ginobili. What can you do?

And so the game ends on a whistle. Time expires. Ginobili tops his own offensive brilliance with a defensive buzzer beater. Two beautifully executed game-winning plays, one on each side of the ball. Some nights Manu Ginobili’s game is just stare-at-me beautiful. This was one of those nights.

Two nights, two games. Two last second shots for the go-ahead lead. One drawn charge as time expires. You’ll never see it again.

Like I said, Manu Ginobili isn’t a basketball player. He’s an exhibitionist.

  • SG

    He’s a bad man!

  • Tom S.

    Yes, Manu Ginobili is a bad man, but I will say this: Nobody was more glad than me that the Spurs didn’t let the game Tim Duncan had last night go to waste by losing.

  • Gomezd

    ginobili future hof? I mean how many people have accomplish what he has? The man is a winner, eurocup, olympic games nba not to mention his time in argentina, he is a monster and in my opinion a lock for the hall of fame.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    One note on last night’s game from me. Antonio McDyess was almost the goat of the game. After Carmelo Anthony’s dunk to make it 111-110 Spurs, Dice should have run the baseline to get in front of Manu Ginobili and throw the ball in to him. Instead, he threw a pass across the lane to Ginobili, where two defenders were positioned between Manu and the ball. Manu still could have caught the in-bounds pass, but Dice didn’t make it very easy for him. As a result, Melo got the steal and bucket. But it did set up a nice finish to the game.

  • SG

    i do have say….the Melo steal of the McDyess inbound pass at the end of the game was really bad on McDyess’s part. He should’ve called time…instead of forcing a pass in traffic under your own basket. He had 2 timeouts left.

  • SAJKinBigD

    Manu’s wallet definitely has B.M.F. on it! :)
    Great WIN on a road SEGABABA over a pretty solid team.
    Great write-up on Manu’s BRILLIANCE! We are so blessed as fans to have TD, Manu and TP at the same time, let alone if they were spread out over different eras.
    Go Spurs Go! You can DO IT!

  • G…

    Where Manu Happens!

  • td4life

    Straight Jedi.

    But who’s showing off, Mr. Varner? This article should be a national cover story, and go into a Sports Illustrated time capsule. Love it.

  • mikrobass3

    great win. didn’t see the game. quick thoughts: mcdyess’s whole reason for being in the game at the end is to prevent the sort of awful basketball mistake he made. i assume pop’s direction was something like–if they go for two, inbound to manu–for free throw opportunities. boy, did he blow the execution on that.

    and, thank goodness we resigned manu. the last couple of years we never would have won a road game, on a back to back, in denver (with the altitude issues). what a will to win. wow.



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  • agutierrez

    Even though Melo and the Thuggets fans disagree (of course), Manu clearly had both feet planted outside the line BEFORE Melo leaves his feet to take the shot. Textbook charge. Manu: where amazing happens. And class act that he is, after the game, he credits Timmy and Tony for keeping us in the game up to that point. A little earlier on NBA TV, Jalen Rose had his “top five closers,” and didn’t include Manu. What a dipshit idiot. This is MVP stuff but, of course, he’ll never get the credit he deserves. We are blessed.

  • doggydogworld

    But the Spurs defense crumbled a little, and on the following possession the Spurs gave up a dunk to Carmelo Anthony

    Hmmm, why no mention of the player guarding Anthony on this play?

  • Daniel

    Manu is a first-ballot HOFer– he’s had one of the best international careers in history, both in Europe and in International play. He’s a borderline HOFer just with his NBA career.

  • rj

    the argentine assasin. simply unbelievable. manu should certainly get MVP considerations, but definately will receive an all star appearance.

  • Rip Wiley

    “Manu Ginobili Sheela na Gig”

    PJ Harvey reference on sports blog shocker!?!?

  • Sriram

    Manuuuuuu!!!!!! I was at the game and after his heroics he signed the number 20 jersey on my back…I even have a picture of him signing on my back!!!!!!! The jersey and the picture shall be framed and hung!! I am so excited. What a game!

  • Tim in Surrey

    Uh, yeah Tim, about that PJ Harvey reference… While that may be what you intended, there’s a lot more to it than that. If I recall correctly, a Sheela Na Gig is a Celtic statuette of a woman pulling apart an enlarged vulva. So, yes, it is a term for an exhibitionist–but for a FEMALE one. In other words, you just called Manu (effectively) a giant pu**y.

  • ITGuy

    Did anyone listen to Barkley’s BS before the game and during half time? The moron had to be drunk or drugged to say what he said.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Rip Wiley

    Tim in Surrey –

    …which might be a problem for any other player, but Manu probably pulls even that off, I reckon.

    (As PtR has firmly established, Manu-love is above mere questions of gender…)

  • E. J.

    Yeah…the title seems a little off to me too. See here for what a Sheela na Gig looks like:

  • NYC


    What was it like in that stadium after the game? Were the fans angry, dejected, or still in shock?

  • gimpsdad

    I must eat crow. Last season, I wanted the Spurs to trade Manu. Lucky for the Spurs, they didn’t listen to me. I guess my armchair GM days are almost over. Almost.

  • Bob

    It’s interesting that the defense really improved after McDyess got into the game. I think Splitter can probably have the same effect once he starts playing. Plus the Spurs will need his length when they face the Lakers twin towers. Also, Richard Jefferson has been as clutch as Bruce Bowen in the fourth quarter.

  • Jory

    “…which Ginobili started on the bench, gathering wind, drinking kill juice.”

    Line of the year.

    “Kill Juice”…awesome.

  • Manu can be my wing man any day


    If it was anything like Roger Mason, Jr.’s Christmas Day 3 in Phoenix, it was freaking awesome. Even though I nearly didn’t make it out of the arena alive that day, there is something particularly sweet about a last-second victory in a hostile crowd.

  • jwalt

    Popovich once said, “Manu Ginobili does more things to win basketball games then anyone I’ve ever coached.”

    Last night was just another classic example.

  • Latin_D

    This is just beautiful, Tim. You’re a writer born for unforgettable moments.

  • junierizzle

    I thought MANU for MVP earlier in the year but it will never happen. He’s playing great but he’s not putting up 30pts every night in NEW YORK, if you know what I mean.

    BUt whenever they describe what an MVP is they always say “Well if you take him off the team then the team is terrible” Granted, even without MANU the SPURS would be decent. But they sure as hell would not be 22-3.

    So by those standards yeah, MANU for MVP.

  • Sriram

    @ NYC…it was a combination of all three and I’d like to add “awe”. Wow! the atmosphere was electric!

  • Timothy Varner

    @Tim in Surrey,

    I was aware of both meanings when I made the post. And I intended both of them, although primarily, I’m referencing the song. I don’t mind the architectural reference because it incorporates ideas of fertility, and, well, Ginobili is a creative beast. He gave birth too some sort of freaky genius last night. Plus, I just like the way ‘Manu Ginobili’ and ‘Sheela na Gig’ roll off the tongue. I’m not really thinking about it too deeply. It just seemed like a nice bold title for a really bold game.

  • Alix Babaie

    I think that Manu is the baddest mutha fatha in the world! That guy has steel in his balls. Anyone else come to mind who could have made that frickin circus shot and then played that perfect position defense in the Association OTHER than Manu? Not even the Black Mamba could have pulled that off.

  • Rafa

    What’s the deal with Reggie Miller?
    “A ‘circus shot’ by Manu Ginoibili.”??
    Doesn’t he know that Manu doesn’t make “circus shots”? Manu just makes “shots”, he doesn’t make “circus shots” haha.
    Also, Tim Duncan’s stat line will forever be overlooked because of Manu’s 4th quarter masterpiece, but man Timmy played a great game. I’m sick and tired of people saying, “Tim Duncan, arguably the best Power Forward to ever play the game.”. Reggie Miller said this at least once last night. My issue with that comment is the word “arguably”. Arguably??? What’s there to argue? I thought the world had already settled this? Timmy isn’t “arguably” the best Power Forward ever… he IS the best Power Forward ever. Can we move on now?

  • neverthehero

    Well when you go 1-8 in the first-half, it is up to you to pull something out of the hat for the win :).

  • Tyler

    Dead. To. Rights. Textbook charge.

    I’m even more impressed the refs called it. Then again, it was the right call, albeit a tough one.

  • SpurredOn

    Exhibitionist is a great way to describe his play, especially in 4th quarters. This was the NBA game of the year thus far.

    Two things: Spurs D, in part thanks to Manu, played it well up three. Manu got a deflection. This forced Denver to use more time than they wanted. Once Melo got into the paint they had to let him score to avoid an and-1.

    I think the winner by Manu was designed to either get him a layup if Denver over-corrected to the paint, or for Manu to hit RJ in the corner for a 3 on the out of bounds falling pass that Manu so often makes (and was described here on 48MoH a few months ago).

  • Tim Varner

    Game of the year? Not sure. The Spurs Magic game from last month was tremendous too. Best two games I’ve watched this year.

  • agutierrez

    Three points: 1. Contrast Manu’s game winner with Melo. Manu had the presence of mind to split the two defenders, both of whom were in pretty good position to get a charge. If he goes into either one, he gets called for the charge and it’s game over. 2. Melo doesn’t have that presence of mind (BBIQ). He probably could just as easily made the shot by pulling up and shooting, he was still just 5 – 10 feet from the rim. 3. To Alix’s point: Kobe might have made the offensive play, but he’d never make the defensive one. At best he’d try and block the shot. Someone once said the difference with Manu is that he not only knows what he and his teammates are going to do, he also knows what the opponents are going to do. He knew EXACTLY what Melo would do and that’s why he got to the spot just before Melo lifted, drawing the charge. While it’s almost never done (the selection of Steve Nash twice is telling), the MVP should be selected based on play at both ends of the court. Dare I say, no one currently playing does more on both ends night after night than Manu. Period.

  • Ravi

    In the Dallas-Portland game a couple of nights ago on ESPN, Heather Cox mentioned that Tim called (and texted) Brandon Roy, to advice him on how to recover better from his current struggles with the knee.

    Who else would do that? Help out a competitor, knowing there is a chance he might face this guy in the playoffs????

    That’s pretty impressive and says a lot about Timmy..I am grateful to be a Spurs fan!!!

  • Brandon in LA

    Is anyone else annoyed that the ESPN article for this game says the Spurs are 22-4?!? Not only does the national media not give the Spurs enough credit, now they’re anxious to add another loss to our record. Tim, can you tell your friends at ESPN to fix this? Similar thing happened about a week ago when an ESPN writer said that Chicago beat the Spurs before he had to be corrected.

    As for Barkley and other commentators belittling the Spurs’ hot start, I think a lot of the people who counted the Spurs out at the start of the season are embarrassed and rather than eating their words they keep leaving the Spurs out of the conversations of which teams have a shot at the Finals. That’s why when the Mavs have the same winning streak as the Spurs, they get mentioned a lot more. The Mavs win a bunch and it’s a sign that they’re going to make some noise in the Western Conference, but when the Spurs win a bunch it’s just an anomaly.

    Not to sound like a disgruntled “everyone hates us” Suns fan, but this is really starting to piss me off. Can’t wait for the Spurs to hoist the championship banner so the media can enjoy their crow dinner!!!

  • Tyler

    Manu is entering Chuck Norris territory.

    I’m 100% convinced there is literally nothing the man cannot do.

  • mybloodissilverandblack

    Got to give the ref some props for having the balls to not “swallow the whistle” at the end game. I mean, how many times have we seen teams getting screwed because the officiating stopped at crucial moments of a game?

    And kudos to Manu. And Timmy.

    And oh, I hope that the Spurs devise a new play wherein Tony does drive but does not take it to the hole all the time. I mean, KICK IT OUT! There are goddamn open shooters manning their stations.

    Well, let’s just hope that everytime Parker does lay it in himself it goes in.


  • mybloodissilverandblack

    As far as the game of the year is concerned, MIN @ SAS comes to mind.

    Otherwise, it has yet to come. Who knows, we’ll all get jittery versus the Lakers two weeks from now?

  • Impercipient

    I was at the game last night. Easily the best live game I’ve been to since the memorial day miracle. Not just because of the outcome but Timmy and Tony were fantastic to watch as were Carmelo and Nene. Single digit turnovers for both teams and Manu ending the game like only Manu can. If you aren’t a Spurs fan, it is easy to not like Manu. I don’t expect you to like him, but I do expect you to respect him and Nuggets fans showed zero basketball iq last night. One asked me how I could root for a flopper. And as I stood there blinking at this man who wore a Carmelo jersey, unaware of the irony he was knee deep in rooting for kmart, jr smith, and “don’t snitch” heading to NY Anthony I thought about it. It came down to dice. Manu is totally unafraid to roll the dice in any situation. He played poorly and only had 3 points until he checked in to the game in the 4th and as mentioned above he stole the game from Timmy’s incredible efficiency. To watch that stadium explode in celebration only to have their win ripped away b/c our most loathed player drew a legitimate charge on their soon to be gone franchise man was a moment I will savor for a long time as a Spurs fan in Nugget country. Don’t worry guys, there’s always the Broncos!!!!

  • Tim Varner

    The ESPN article is actually AP copy. Yahoo! is running the same thing. None of the three editorial staffs caught the mistake–AP, ESPN, Yahoo!

  • Fernando

    jajaja Tyler

    I´m 100% agree with your comment.
    He can does whatever he want….and he is a proud of my country…ARGENTINA!
    Greetings for all and GO SPURS GO!

    MVP – MVP – MVP

  • manufan

    After the game last night Charles Barkley said that Manu is the best and most complete international player in NBA history.

  • GeoSpurs

    Who cares what Chukfat has to say – I’m still pissed off about the national headlines saying the spurs are 22-4 – OMFG really? i mean…really!!

    I’m so livid right now guys – new to the board didnt know I could just reply :) good to be here in Spursland !!

    Manu is the MAN-U

  • Sriram

    @ Impercipient…well said…I have company in Denver.

  • LarryL

    I was at the game as a SPUR Fan and boy were they angry. I have to admit that seeing live I wasn’t sure, but two refs made the call at the same time…There were some angry fans from Denver