SAN ANTONIO - That all-points bulletin on Manu Ginobili has been canceled. He's been located and just in time to help the Spurs regain control of the NBA Finals.
Popovich inserted the struggling Manu Ginobili into the lineup foe Tiago Splitter, which turned out to be a genius move, and those fans frantically and happily waving a banner that read "Manu Ginobelieve" outside the arena probably were ecstatic after Ginobili's breathtaking performance Sunday night.
Ginobili pumped in a season-high 24 points, and North Babylon native Danny Green netted 24 points and hit six threes en route to breaking the NBA Finals series mark for most three-pointers as the Spurs won, 114-104, in Game 5 at AT&T Center and grabbed a 3-2 series lead.
Game 6 is in Miami on Tuesday night.
"I needed to make a couple of shots," said Ginobili, who found out at practice Saturday that he'd be starting. "Not that I made that many -- I was 1-for-4 from three-point range. But I just had a better overall offensive game and I needed to feel like that. So it's good that it happened in an important situation.
"I was able to attack the rim, got to the free-throw line and make some shots."
Still, even he was a bit stunned by his output.
"I didn't expect a 24-point game," he said. "It didn't happen all season long."
Ginobili was hot from the outset, canning a three-pointer to start the game. He had seven points and four assists in the first quarter alone.
"I think that first shot was huge," said Tony Parker, who had a team-high 26 points to go along with five assists, "because that was not even a play for him; it was a play for me. And he kept it, and it was like a broken play, and he hits that three.
"I think the whole team, it helps everybody, because we know Manu is a big part of what we do. And we needed a game like that from him."
Ginobili's offensive explosion sure seemed to ignite the Spurs, who shot a blistering 60 percent and led by as many as 20 points in the second half before Miami stormed back to cut it to one on two occasions. But San Antonio essentially put the Heat away with a 19-1 run spanning the third and fourth quarters.
"We just dug ourselves in a deep hole very early, and unlike Game 3, we fought back," said Dwyane Wade, who like LeBron James, scored 25 points. "We got it within one. We used so much to get back, and they continued to keep coming at us."
Just how timely was Ginobili's sudden resurrection, which put the defending champion Heat on the brink of elimination? Through the first four games of the series, he had totaled just 30 points and 12 assists. By the time the third quarter was done, he already had 20 points and nine assists, leaving his fingerprints all over this one and helping send the Heat home knowing they have to win successive contests -- something they haven't done in their last 12 games.
"I have to come up big, for sure in Game 6," James said. "But I believe we all have to play at a high level in order to keep the series going. So me being one of the leaders of this team, I do put a lot of pressure on myself to force a Game 7, and I look forward to the challenge."