Feeling heat, Ginobili stands up to it


VIDEO: Heat-Spurs Game 1 recap

SAN ANTONIO — They came searching for redemption. What they got was a replay.

The last time Manu Ginobili and the Spurs walked off the AT&T Center court following a Finals game, the crowd was standing up, the triumphant cheers for him were bouncing off the walls and the fifth championship in franchise history was out there just over the horizon.

It still is, of course, because of what happened in Games 6 and 7 in Miami a year ago, much of it because Ginobili’s game simply fell apart so spectacularly.

He could have come back nearly 12 months later with enough emotional loose change to feed every vending machine in the Institute of Pop Psychology.

Instead Ginobili began picking up the pieces by doing what he so often does — whatever he could.

He slung in those moon ball 3-pointers early, he set up his teammates late and in between did a little bit of everything else.

When the chiseled specimen that is LeBron James could no longer stand up to the withering heat caused by a broken air conditioner inside the arena, the frenzied, swirling wind that is Ginobili blew through the Heat just as he did a year ago before the fall.

“I played a couple of good games last year,” he said after 16 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. “Maybe not really well in the losses, actually pretty bad and that hurt me, of course.”

It was a dismal slide at the end of a difficult 2012-13 season in which Ginobili missed 22 games due to various nagging injuries that got into his head and eventually caused him to question if he wanted to continue playing.

However, on the first day of free agency last July and just a short time before his 36th birthday, Ginobili met with Spurs general manager R.C. Buford, who told him there was no question that the team wanted him back.

“He said, ‘You are part of this, we want you here,’ ” Ginobili said. “That’s what I wanted to hear.”

So he signed a two-year contract worth $14 million and came back to play a key role in returning to form and returning the Spurs to The Finals. His playing time is down, but his numbers are back up and there have been times when he’s shown the form that nearly earned him the Finals MVP award when the Spurs won it all nearly a decade ago in 2005.

This is the Ginobili that the Spurs needed to survive the long slog through the regular season with a league-best 62 wins and to weave through the minefield of the playoffs to get the sequel they wanted against Miami.

That was the Manu that has often defied description as his arms go one way, his legs another and somehow he winds up putting another twisting layup through the hoop, finding the bottom of the net from long range or sending one of his heat-seeking radar passes to another one of the Spurs for a bucket.

Ginobili was a one-man wrecking crew in the fourth quarter of Game 1, even though he didn’t score a point. He started the quarter with a couple of feeds to Tiago Splitter for layups. With the game tied at 90-all, he got it down into the low post to Tim Duncan to give the Spurs the lead they would not give up. Ginobili set up Danny Green for the second of his back-breaking 3-pointers, shoveled a neat pass to Boris Diaw for another layup and then closed things out by spotting Kawhi Leonard wide up for his knock-out trey.

All of it on a night when somehow the weather indoors became a, well, hot topic of conversation. As if nobody had ever seen an Olympic marathoner run 26.2 miles in heat and humidity or a watched a couple of kids go 1-on-1 on a searing asphalt playground in the middle of summer.

“You know, it happens,” Ginobili said. “It’s the same heat for both and we did OK. We moved the ball and I don’t think we turned the ball over because of the temperature or the heat, so I don’t think it was a big factor. I don’t know if LeBron’s situation, this was the reason for that. I don’t think we suffered as much. And for sure I played more years in situations like this than with AC on the court. Not a big deal in that case.”

Not if you’ve been carrying around the burden of something to prove for the past year.

“I’m very happy to have played a pretty good game,” Ginobili said. “I felt that I helped the team win. But at this point, we are in the exact spot as last year. We are up 1-0…”

This was the replay he needed, not yet the redemption he still wants.

33 Comments

  1. Bob says:

    As bad as the Spurs played with 23 turnovers and as good as Miami played, the Spurs still kept the game even. If the Spurs play just a little better, they’ll walk away with this.

  2. Scott C says:

    sloppy game by the Spurs in the first 3 quarters, it shoul dhave been another woodshed beating like OKC but we were lucky to get the W…. but that being said…………. GINOBILIIIIIIII !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. SPURS GREATNESS says:

    WHy do people keep saying BE HUMBLE?

    But Why? I’m a SPURS FAN and I’m supposed to be proud and loud.

    I have confidence in this team’s chances and I will express that with sheer enthusiasm.
    I will leave the humility part to the SPURS players. As of me, I will celebrate every WIN, and support them with every loss.

    I’m an excited, loyal San Antonio fan, and if you can’[t handle the “heat”, get out of the kitchen !!

    SPURS will finish in 6 games. 2014 Champs = THE SPURS

  4. Chris says:

    Don’t get too happy. I’m a longtime spurs fan, but I also understand what the heat are capable of. This is still anyone’s series. Spurs need to play every game like it’s a game 7, keep sharp, don’t turn the ball over 23 times, and close out on shooters.

    Spurs play their brand of basketball for the remainder of the series this can be over in 5. But I’m still calling spurs in 6

  5. Norm says:

    The fourth quarter was a clinic!

  6. DrifterWS19 says:

    the spurs r really playin at a high level rite now but we gotta make sure we’re sharp sunday nite. heat r gonna b playin all out next game so we better not underestimate these heat bc they’re quite capable of beatin us. the spurs r really clicking tho and if we keep up the defense and want it more we should b able to take that title back. the spurs have to many weapons and r to efficient when were playin D and and runnin our O. great series tho just like last year GO SPURS……drive for 5

  7. hb says:

    The Spurs and Manu are an unselfish and humble team…..that makes them the greatest, la humildad have a este equipo el major

  8. cold eye killer says:

    Lebron should have kept his sweaty gear on! Sweat cools you down and I wonder if all of the padding and under armor made it so his body had a tough time cooling off. I am not sure if any of the spurs players were wearing any of that stuff.

  9. atlantico says:

    Manu is so unselfish, just one shot attempt in 4th. Q, and six asists. as a result , The spurs won the 4th Q, 36 to 17.

  10. Kevin says:

    The excuse makers are already out in force….
    They little comments about the “late run – AFTER LeBron was out” — the emphasis on AFTER, as if to imply that until THAT moment, the Heat were firmly in the drivers seat……BUT, the SPURS led SEVERAL times throughout the game! They would get a lead, and it would slip away and regain it and let it slip away. Were it NOT for the SPURS turnovers (possibly caused by the extra sweat from the lack of A/C?????) the Heat would NEVER have had a lead.
    This is the FINALS people — quit making excuses and enjoy the action!! EVEN if it’s the SPURS winning, and not your boy LeBron!

  11. Awesome John says:

    The heat are a very tough team and will be back stronger and hungrier thats for sure…

    But you can see the intensity in San Antonio, they want to win very badly, more than the Heat.. its out in the open…

    This will be a great series to watch I cant wait for it to continue…

    I too was very angry at Manu last year… but the man has guts you have to give him that,, his play making is superb and gets the spurs “really humming as a team”…. this year the Spurs have been a joy to watch…. great stuff coming up I’m sure. Everyone hold on to your seats….

  12. Carlos Ramiro says:

    Manu you are the best basketball player from Argentina. Vamos Manu!!!!! es un orgullo ser argentino y poder ver jugar a un grande de corazón y garra.

  13. Cristian says:

    Spurs ‘s fans : Don´t forget 2003, 2005 and 2007.

    GINOBILIIIIIII !!! Eternamente agradecido por ser argentino!!!!! / eternally grateful for being argentinean!!!!!

  14. atlantico says:

    The Miami team is not heat proof. !!GO SPURS GO!! GINOBILI………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. prahumac says:

    i think the trio of spurs will prove too much for the heat!!!!!!!! go spurs go!!!!!!!

  16. atlantico says:

    Manu is the best international player ever in the NBA. The smater player in the NBA by much.

  17. brusier brody says:

    The WNBA plays with cramps all the time, I guess Lebron was PMSing?

  18. William says:

    Proof last night that the SPURS can take the HEAT.

  19. Juan says:

    Simple: “And for sure I played more years in situations like this than with AC on the court. Not a big deal in that case.”

  20. atahualpaoxford says:

    Vivan Las Espuelas de San Antonio…

  21. Yohann says:

    Great game Ginobili, but you can’t relax or be satisfied, I wanted to kill you after game six and seven in the finals last year for playing so awful. I know you are a great player and if you play like that every game in this finals, you will prove me right. I’ll be watching you, don’t disappoint.

  22. Abel says:

    Go Manu!! You are the real KING!!! Go spurs

  23. CASUBEI says:

    GINOOOBILIIIIIIIIIII !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Jay Jay says:

    WE ARE SOOOOOOOOOOOOO PROUD OF GINOBILI. REMEMBER THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. T.Monk says:

    Even if it´s a note to praise Manu´s game, I think you are giving him too much of the burden on last year´s loss on the finals. And he had his share of the guilt, but I don´t think that its bigger than the rest of the team.
    Only that he felt guilty, and tired, and such, but it`s because he plays with the heart

  26. typpercat says:

    TOUCHE!!!!

  27. prahumac says:

    i think the spurs should win the next game too!!!!!!!!!!! go spurs go!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. spurs keep cheating says:

    holy cramps

  29. lucho says:

    manuuuu and the spurs , 2 hot for the heat !!!!! go spurs !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Andres says:

    It’s called “huevos” and “corazon”. This guy keeps showing that his love for basketball is the driving engine for his performance.

    Vamos Manu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Vamos Spurs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. SPURS HOTNESS says:

    There will be a heated argument about the a/c malfunction. LeBron and his legion of fans will be hot-headed in the next 2 days. But the SPURS fever is rising. We will see this team reach its boiling point. Duncan will keep the building sealed however, and Miami’s chaces for a three-peat will soon evaporate. I’m lovin’ this HOT COURT ADVANTAGE. Let’s display our scorching offense and the extingushing defense in Game 2. Win SPURS Win !!

  32. Patrick says:

    GINBOBILIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII….GO SPURS GO!!!