Gregg Popovich is now 6-0 in first-round game-fives when the teams are tied two games apiece.
Pop’s perfect streak was helped by solid team play from the Spurs, with six players scoring in double figures. It was a nice sight after a tough game-four loss that saw a superhuman performance from Kawhi Leonard and not much from the rest of the Spurs.
But in game five, Kawhi, who dropped 28 on 16 shots, got help from a rejuvenated Manu Ginobili. Gino scored his first points of the series, bringing what Patty Mills called “Grandpa Juice” and fired up his teammates. Pop called Manu “fantastic” and and said that “[Manu] having a good night, starting out the way he did, was really a big boost.”
Manu did most of his scoring damage early, dropping eight of his ten points in the first quarter on that and-one, a triple and this beautiful bucket.
The first quarter ended in a 23-23 tie.
The Spurs opened the game up a little in the second quarter, outscoring the Grizz 32-26, with some quality shooting. The team shot 63% in the period and hit six of their nine triples (the Spurs hit 14 triples for the game on 50% shooting).
A quick 4-0 Tony Parker run put the Spurs up 10 a minute into the third quarter and it looked like the Spurs were going to run away with the game as they built a lead as big as 18 with three minutes left in the quarter but the Grizz fought their way back into it.
A 10-3 Memphis run to close the period cut the Spurs’ lead down to 11 with 12 minutes left to play.
Then a 7-0 Memphis run made it a four-point game two-and-a-half minutes into the final quarter. With their backs against the wall, Memphis pulled together a 17-3 run in about four minutes of game time, mostly with spectacular play from Mike Conley. Conley scored nine of those 17, notched a steal and assisted on a JaMychal Green corner three.
But the Spurs responded, first with this sweet dish from Kawhi to David Lee for the and-one jam.
And then Leonard and Mills put the game away as Kawhi scored eight points in the middle four minutes of the quarter and Patty chipping in by hitting four triples, the last of which put the Spurs up a comfortable 15 points with under three minutes left to play.
The game was noticeably less physical than the previous two contests, and both teams were better offensively, each shooting over 50% for the game. After the game Memphis coach, David Fizdale, said, “if you give up 116 points to the Spurs, you’re probably not going to win.” I expect Memphis to get back to muddying up the game when they host game six.
The whiteboard in the locker room now reads 13.
- It was a blast to watch Manu Ginobili be Manu Ginobili. I half expected him to bounce back in this one but it was great to see him make his first attempt of the game. 0-for-15 was making me a little sad. Not only did he shoot it well on Tuesday night (four of six), the Full Manu was on display - incredible competitiveness, driving and dishing, hitting the floor for loose balls, disrupting passing lanes, trying sneaky strips, great inbound defense. The Full Manu.
Dude’s an all-time gamer:
Manu Ginobili and Vince Carter are a combined 327 years old diving for loose balls pic.twitter.com/IGw6Gufbcq— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) April 26, 2017
- Patty Mills was devastating from deep, hitting five of his seven attempts on his way to a career-playoff-best 20 points. He was 4-for-4 from distance in the fourth quarter and finished a game-high plus-22 for the night.
- Kawhi Leonard is averaging 31.6 points on 57.6% shooting in the series. He’s also shooting 54% from deep and 98% from the charity stripe. So his 28 points on Tuesday night had a bit of a ho-hum quality to it, which is a good thing. The Spurs won by double digits. Help is a good thing. For what it’s worth, LaMarcus is the Spurs’ second leading scorer in the series at 14.4 points per. Patty and Tony are the only two other players averaging double digits.
- Speaking of Tony, he’s been pretty good in the playoffs so far, averaging 14.2 points on 48% shooting and 54% shooting from deep, where he’s taking 2.6 shots per game.
- The Spurs tallied 23 assists, their most in the series.
- The home team has won all nine games the Grizzlies and Spurs have played this season. Hopefully that trend won’t hold and the Spurs can get a couple days off instead of hosting a game seven on Saturday. The Rockets are waiting.
- DeWayne Dedmon didn’t see the floor until the game was decided. Pop went with David Lee instead. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in game six with Dedmon.
Game Six is in Memphis on Thursday night and tipoff is at 8:30 Spurs time. You can catch the game on Fox Sports Southwest and TNT.