When Kawhi Leonard exited Game 5 between the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets with 34 seconds remaining in regulation, it felt as if a death blow had been struck for the home team. Then, moments later, Leonard’s absence as a result of an ankle injury felt doubly important, as a Patty Mills game-winner was waved off after being released after the buzzer.
That hiccup prompted the reality of a five-minute overtime period without the best player available for San Antonio, but in true Spurs-ian fashion, the role players erupted and the favorites were able to escape with what seemed like a heist of a victory.
Earlier in the evening, Manu Ginobili made it (quite) clear that he wasn’t ready to go quietly into the night.
And, later, the ageless veteran wrapped his performance in a pretty bow with a massive defensive play on the final sequence of the evening.
In between, though, the quartet of Ginobili, Patty Mills, Danny Green and Jonathan Simmons were incredible for the Spurs and that was enough to push the team to victory. Ginobili finished the game with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists in an astounding 32 minutes of action, and the Spurs were +8 during that time period. San Antonio desperately needed his creation off the dribble at times and he was, at the very least, a steadying force that seemed to rise to the occasion at the most important stages of the night.
Elsewhere, Simmons contributed perhaps the most important performance of his still-young career. Gregg Popovich looked in his direction to the tune of 32 minutes, and while Simmons was just 5 of 14 from the floor, his defense was incredibly valuable (especially against James Harden in overtime). He also provided an athletic spark on both ends.