SAN ANTONIO -- Manu Ginobili played a significant role in the NBA Finals for the first time in Game 5 on Sunday, Danny Green reprised a familiar one and, as a result, the Heat fell to the San Antonio Spurs 114-104 to fall behind 3-2 in the series.
With the Spurs facing a critical game lose and they would have to win two in a row in Miami coach Gregg Popovich inserted Ginobili into the starting lineup at small forward. That kept the hot-shooting Green at shooting guard.
Both moves paid huge dividends for the Spurs. Ginobili scored a season-high 24 points and had 10 assists in his first start of the season. Green, meanwhile, scored 24 points, hitting 6 of 10 three-pointers. He broke Ray Allens mark for three-pointers in an NBA Finals. Green has hit 25.
I cant believe hes still open at this moment in the series, Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. They are still trapping me and doubling Timmy [Duncan], and Danny is wide open. Hes shooting the ball well. If you are going to leave Danny wide open, hes going to make threes.
Ginobili and Green teamed up to help the Spurs hold off the Heat during a critical third-quarter stretch after the Heat had cut the Spurs lead to 75-74 with 3:05 remaining. With Ginobili playing the point guard while Parker was on the bench, Ginobili and Green scored or assisted as the Spurs went on a 13-1 run to close the quarter. The run eventually reached 19-1 in the fourth quarter.
It started with Green taking a handoff from Boris Diaw and hitting a three-pointer from five feet beyond the arc before Chris Bosh or Shane Battier could close. On the Spurs next possession, Ginobili converted an old-fashioned three-point play, driving on Allen and hitting a shot over Bosh despite Allens foul. After two more Ginobili layups and a Ginobili assist, the quarter was over, most of the damage was done and the Heat never recovered.
I needed it, Ginobili said. I was having a tough time scoring, and I needed to feel like the game was coming to me. And I was able to attack the rim, get to the free-throw line and make a couple of shots.
On Greens record-setting three-pointer, Green tipped the ball away from Dwyane Wade as both players fell to the floor, and Ginobili pushed the ball upcourt. Green, after getting up, came down and spotted up for a three. Ginobili flipped the ball back to Green, who with 9:40 left in the third quarter hit it before Wade could stop the shot.
When the Heat made a run late, they were at it again, with Ginobili flipping it to Green for a three-pointer off the fast break and a 114-101 Spurs lead with 1:06 left.
Last season, it was Ginobilis broken hand that opened the way for Green to earn a starting spot. Now, the two have shown the Spurs best chance might be with both of them starting.
Hes been unbelievable, Duncan said of Green. Especially on this stage. Hes shooting the ball so well. Were asking him to defend Dwyane Wade and LeBron [James] and all these guys. Hes got a lot on his shoulders, and hes stepped up and answered the bell. Hes been unbelievable. I hope he doesnt wake up and keeps playing this way.