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.
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.