Posted May 08, 2013

Three-Pointers: Spurs reel off stunning comeback to beat Warriors in double overtime

Golden State Warriors, Manu Ginobili, Rob Mahoney, San Antonio Spurs, Stephen Curry
Manu Ginobili hit a go-ahead three-pointer to complete San Antonio's impressive Game 1 comeback. (D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

Manu Ginobili hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left in double overtime to complete San Antonio’s impressive Game 1 comeback over Golden State. (D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Spurs rallied from a 16-point deficit with four minutes left in regulation Monday to stun the Warriors 129-127 on Manu Ginobili’s last-second three-pointer in double overtime. San Antonio leads the second-round series 1-0. 

 Manu Ginobili, redeemed. So many of the most gripping narratives in sports are tales of failure and redemption — a hero’s journey cast in the most empathetic and relatable light. Yet rare is the opportunity to see that atonement played out over the course of a single minute, as happened to be the case with Ginobili and an unforgettable pair of tide-turning three-point attempts that earned San Antonio its double-overtime victory.

The first was an unforgivable basketball sin, as Ginobili had the nerve to fire a long, contested three-point attempt without any warning or even the slightest patience. That miss with 11 seconds on the shot clock seemed to upend all that San Antonio had fought so hard to gain in the closing minutes of regulation — during which the Spurs went on an 18-2 run in just four minutes. Ginobili missed with 44 seconds remaining in the second overtime period and the Spurs leading 126-123.

Soon after, the Warriors gathered a loose rebound, Stephen Curry slinked into the lane for a score and Tony Parker followed by missing an attempt near the rim. Golden State leveraged a loose rebound off Parker’s miss to push the break, where Curry found a wide-open Kent Bazemore on the left wing — a window that bore the full penalty for Ginobili’s gall:

After all, that ill-conceived three wasn’t a mere miscalculation on Ginobili’s part, but an unmistakable blunder. One of the headiest players on the court let his desire to end the game get the better of him — and by extension, very nearly let the Warriors get the better of the Spurs. Bazemore’s unlikely go-ahead bucket could easily have been the final note in a thrilling game, ringing resonant in harmony with Manu’s self-evident gaffe. Even though they weren’t consecutive, the former could not exist without the latter; Golden State would not have been able to sneak ahead if not for the disarray caused by Ginobili’s wayward logic, and in that single mistake a brilliant player sabotaged all that he and his teammates had worked so hard to build.

That is, until Ginobili went on to hit his subsequent three-point attempt with 1.2 seconds remaining — a wide-open look offered up by the Warriors’ sloppy defensive coverage. Simultaneous action on an out-of-bounds play sent two Golden State defenders (Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes) scrambling to stick with Parker while Bazemore had little choice but to honor Boris Diaw’s dive down the middle of the paint. With those two threats accounted for, Ginobili went unchaperoned on the far side of the court, available to catch and shoot over Bazemore’s delayed close-out. He who had failed was now salvaged, reconstructed by an unpredictable turn of an unbelievable game.

 An upset squandered and a comeback earned. Ginobili’s final shot will stand as the enduring image of the evening, but the gravity of his game-winner disguises the fact that Golden State should never have allowed this game to slip into overtime in the first place. There’s little excuse for a team of this caliber to surrender a 16-point lead in just four minutes, and none whatsoever considering how effectively the Warriors executed throughout the bulk of this game.

In the third quarter, Curry (44 points on 35 shots to go with 11 assists) crossed the line from tough cover to unguardable, elevating Golden State to ridiculous new heights. The driving lanes and open jumpers had been there for Golden State all night long, but the game opened up completely for the Warriors once the Spurs’ desperation became palpable. They trapped Curry, cycled through several different defenders and switched as they could. Meanwhile, Curry lit up any defender unfortunate enough to check him and gracefully passed his way out of a series of difficult traps.

All was going so well for the visitors until the combination of Kawhi Leonard’s length and some understandable fatigue (Curry played all 58 minutes) began to trigger Golden State’s penchant for late-game struggles. Curry’s shooting cooled, and as he faded to the background the Warriors fell adrift with Jarrett Jack’s active over-dribbling. Jack merely operated in the same ball handling capacity through which he had proved valuable to Golden State all season, but in doing so dispatched the precedent for beautiful, well-run offense that gave the Warriors such incredible command over the game’s first 44 minutes.

Golden State lost this game in plain view, but not in such a way that should deny San Antonio its necessary credit. Leonard wasn’t merely a defender in the right place at the right time to witness Curry’s fall back to earth, but the most consistent Spur throughout this entire game. He challenged Curry before the catch and smothered him after it, keeping Curry’s explosive potential quelled while San Antonio’s comeback was underway.

In those final minutes, Parker seemed to finally recall that he’s allowed to attack the basket, and both Danny Green and Boris Diaw made huge, game-altering plays while Tim Duncan retreated to the locker room with the flu. Duncan had done his part to keep San Antonio relatively competitive throughout, but his departure oddly coincided with a return to Spurs normalcy.

Typically, it’s by Duncan’s scoring and playmaking that San Antonio’s offense ticks like clockwork, and with his help that the Spurs string together stops upon stops. But San Antonio’s latest achievement came by way of a make-do lineup that was likely smaller than Gregg Popovich would have liked, featuring a big man (Diaw) who hadn’t played NBA basketball in almost a month. The Spurs’ key scorers struggled (Parker and Ginobili shot a combined 16-for-46 from the field, good for 35 percent) and the lineups deviated from the norm. But through it all, Popovich’s system endured, thus allowing the Spurs to continue pushing back long after they had every reason to concede.

• The matchup battle begins. Lineup construction should make for an interesting chess match of sorts between Mark Jackson and Popovich. Jackson seemingly had no qualms about piecing together five-man combinations without much regard for how the Spurs might exploit them. The Warriors went small with the defensively inept Carl Landry as a nominal center for nearly 10 minutes, according to NBA.com, most of which came without penalty. Jackson paired Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green without consequence as well, despite the fact that such a combination should stand as an obstruction to the Warriors’ offensive flow. San Antonio simply failed to identify and attack mismatches, as they neither brought the offense to Duncan on the low block nor stretched out one of the Warriors’ poorer combinations in order to pick it apart.

Each team spent Game 1 attempting to find its own way, and for the vast majority of the game that left Jackson and the Warriors with the upper hand. There’s certainly something to be said — and a 1-0 advantage to be noted — in the way that the Spurs finished, but San Antonio could stand to do a much better job of realizing the obvious advantages presented in Golden State’s oddly small lineups.

18 comments
Matt1_JG1
Matt1_JG1

@kewlwurld2013 just because the warriors have 1 good player doesn't mean the spurs have to only guard him. And even he the warriors were a good team in this series, the spurs would just pull out their original plays and have the warriors tripping. I know you call this a series just yet but the favor is in the SPURS

ajoseph
ajoseph

By no means the worst decision, that would be the foul against Nowitzki in overtime the year the Spurs lost to the Mavs who went on to lose to the Heat - I believe it was 2006. I still maintain it might have been a bad decision but he was probably going for a two for one which leads players to take bad initial shots to insure getting the ball back. The reality is concentrating on getting a good first shot is more valuable, especially in a game within three points.

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

Fairly easy to be a hero when no one guards you at this level.


Jarrett Jack is killing the Warriors.

kewlwurld2013
kewlwurld2013

The Spurs are a good team, but they cannot beat the Warriors in a 7 game series. They simply have no one that can come close to guarding Stephen Curry.  If they double team him, the Warriors have 3 more players on the floor that can knock down threes. Bear in mind, the Spurs had every player on their team from the PG, SG, and SF position trying to guard him at one point. He destroyed every single last one of them. When they double teamed him, he ended up with 11 assist. The Spurs can't hope to foul out Klay Thompson every game. The only way to stop Curry is to get extremely physical and border line dirty with him.

BMeck
BMeck

The Spurs won because they are the bette team. Go Spurs Go.

dinohealth
dinohealth

This game proved, without doubt, that the Warriors beating Denver was no fluke, and, they are perfectly capable of beating the Spurs.  They outshot the Spurs.  They outrebounded the Spurs.  They created more defensive mismatches than the Spurs.  They created more open shots on offense than the Spurs.  They did not lose to the Spurs!  They gave the game to the Spurs with 21 turnovers; most of them unforced!  Warriors, still, in six!

Mark4
Mark4

GS has come apart in the fourth quarter in their last two games.  If Denver could make a layup, SA might be playing them instead.

ajoseph
ajoseph

Manu's shot was ill advised, but I think he was trying to make sure the Spurs would get the last shot with a two for one. I think there were 32 seconds left when he shot so by shooting a fairly open albeit too long three then, the Spurs would have the last shot. The two for one strategy is probably overused and leads to too many poor initial shots but I think that was what he was trying to do.

RomarioDelLago
RomarioDelLago

Here's an idea, morons...put a video up of the actual GAME-WINNER.  Durrr....  Where do they find these guys, I swear.  Just total bozos...

akclau
akclau

@kewlwurld2013 I like Curry, but one high power scorer doesn't win you a series, and Curry isn't even rank top 5 in regular season scoring avg.

WhatAboutTob
WhatAboutTob

@kewlwurld2013 Curry had 44 and the Spurs won. Doubtful Curry scores that much again. The Spurs were sloppy and rusty. To say the Spurs can't beat the Warriors in 7 is ridiculous. They're the better team, have a one-oh lead, and simply have to win 3 out of 6, 3 of which coming at home where they've now won 30 straight against the Warriors. GS blew their chance at this series. Better luck next year.

Matt1_JG1
Matt1_JG1

@dinohealth And they still lost your statement is pointless, Spurs are gonna take the series

WhatAboutTob
WhatAboutTob

@dinohealth Warriors fan are delusional. You outplayed a better team and still lost. Thinking the Spurs are gonna shoot in the high 30's again is ridiculous. Spurs in five, assuming Curry goes off once at home.

WhatAboutTob
WhatAboutTob

@ajoseph There was 44 seconds left. There was no excuse for that shot other than Manu being Manu. Worst decision he's ever made. 

hddh
hddh

@RomarioDelLago Hey moron, maybe if you hit the previous post button or look around the page for 5 seconds you'll notice the Ginobli game-winner got it's own post.

Matt1_JG1
Matt1_JG1

@WhatAboutTob @kewlwurld2013 ITs to early to call it a series but yes the Spurs are the better team in this real scenario because we have a better coach, Gregg Popovich, who actually rest our best players rather than playing the best player for the whole game. I guess we'll see what happens tonight