NBA Finals: Manu Ginobili leads Spurs past Heat and within one victory of title

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SAN ANTONIO — Across three NBA championships and more than 100 playoff victories together, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have built a bond most teammates will never share.

So maybe Ginobili could ignore it when he was suddenly being criticized around San Antonio.

You better believe it bothered the others.

“Yeah, of course,” Parker said. “Because for everything he did for the franchise, I thought it was a little bit too harsh. We understand it’s a business. He came out big tonight.”

Just like Parker said he would.

Ginobili broke out of a slump in a big way with 24 points and 10 assists in his first start of the season, and the Spurs beat the Miami Heat 114-104 on Sunday night to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.

Parker scored 26 points, Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Ginobili had his highest-scoring game of the season as the Spurs became the first team to shoot 60 percent in a finals game in four years.

“He’s such a huge part of what we do and how far we’ve come. You can see it tonight in how we played and the results of the game,” Duncan said. “We’re always confident in him. … We know he has it in him. We hope he can bring it forward for one more win.”

Danny Green smashed the NBA Finals record for 3-pointers, hitting six more and scoring 24 points. Kawhi Leonard finished with 16, but the stage was set when Ginobili trotted out with Duncan, Parker and the rest of starters in what could have been the last finals home game for a trio that’s meant so much to San Antonio.

One more victory and the Spurs' Big Three, not Miami’s, will be the one that rules the NBA.

And a big reason was Ginobili, as he’s been for so long — just not during what had been a miserable series for the former Sixth Man of the Year.

“I was angry, disappointed,” Ginobili said. “We are playing in the NBA Finals, we were 2-2, and I felt I still wasn’t really helping the team that much,” Ginobili said. “And that was the frustrating part.”

On Sunday, it was all forgotten.

“He’s obviously very popular. He’s been here a long time. He’s helped us have a lot of success over the years,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

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