Manu of the Match: Ginobili is the hero in another instant classic

Manu Ginobili

Manu Ginobili (photo. Xinhua)

While the NBA was still buzzing from the Knicks/Celtics craziness, the Nuggets and Spurs went out and topped the East Coasters in terms of sheer insanity and drama at the end. And their game included what was possibly the best in-game dunk we’ve seen since Shawn Kemp was rocking Kamikazes … The Nuggets had a slim lead early in the fourth quarter before Manu Ginobili went off. He got wide open on a backdoor cut for a layup, hit a step-back jumper that looked a lot like the dagger he delivered against Milwaukee, then drained a three to put San Antonio seemingly in command. And when Manu wasn’t scoring, Tony Parker (24 pts, 9 asts) and Tim Duncan (28 pts, 16 rebs, 4 blks) were running an unstoppable two-man game. But then Carmelo got busy, powering his way in for layups and free throw opportunities to keep it close … With 25 seconds left, Denver was down two with Al Harrington at the line. He made the first, but dented the rim with the second, and for some reason the Nuggets let the Spurs pass the basketball around like a joint and didn’t foul until Ginobili got it. He of course made his free throws, and then things really got crazy: Carmelo (31 pts, 9 rebs) drove in for a dunk to cut the lead to one, and then Antonio McDyess and Ginobili screwed up the inbounds, allowing ‘Melo to get a steal and lay the ball in for the go-ahead shot. Denver had gone from down three to up one in like six seconds. So while you’d think San Antonio would be stunned, all Gregg Popovich did was draw up a play to get Ginobili (16 pts) a running banker through three defenders off the inbounds pass. Denver ball with four seconds left, and Carmelo drove down the middle for the game-winning bucket — except he trucked Ginobili in the process and was called for charging. Ballgame. And somewhere, Amar’e Stoudemire was empathizing … Alright, raise your hand if you’ve gotten Gary Forbes and Gary Neal mixed up at some point this season. Now raise your hand again if it was still happening last night …

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