San Antonio wins series 4-2 (Game 5 of 6)

San Antonio wins series 4-2

Game 1: Sunday, May 8th
Game 2: Tuesday, May 10th
Game 3: Thursday, May 12th
Game 4: Sunday, May 15th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 17th
Game 6: Thursday, May 19th

SuperSonics 90

(52-30, 26-15 away)

Spurs 103

(59-23, 38-3 home)

8:30 PM ET, May 17, 2005

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

1 2 3 4 T
SEA 18 32 18 2290
SA 25 25 28 25103

Top Performers

Seattle: R. Allen 19 Pts, 4 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

San Antonio: M. Ginobili 39 Pts, 4 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl

17-3 third-period run takes vibe out of Sonics

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Seattle coach Nate McMillan was right. Just as he told his team before tipoff, Game 5 was decided by how his SuperSonics played in the opening minutes of the first and third quarters.

They were lousy. And now they're headed home on the brink of elimination, with the San Antonio Spurs a win from returning to the Western Conference finals.

Manu Ginobili celebrated his return to San Antonio's starting lineup with a career playoff-best 39 points and Nazr Mohammed scored nine of his 19 points during a 17-3 run to open the second half, sending the Spurs past the Sonics 103-90 Tuesday night and giving them a 3-2 lead in the second-round series.

"We came in with an understanding that this is no slouch of a team and we had to be ready to play," San Antonio's Bruce Bowen said.

The Spurs were far more ready than Seattle, which missed its first seven shots. The Sonics recovered to tie it at halftime, then opened the second half by missing six of seven. San Antonio, meanwhile, was rolling behind Ginobili and Mohammed on offense and Bowen on defense.

The Spurs' defense was so good on defense in those two pivotal quarters that Seattle's Ray Allen didn't make a basket during them; his only point was a free throw with 4.2 seconds left in the third. He still led the team with 19 points, but that came from 15 in the catch-up second quarter and four in the fourth, when the Sonics never got closer than 80-75.

"They came out and did what they were supposed to do," said Allen, who was so off in the third quarter that he missed three free throws after being 55-of-59 from the line this postseason.

The cozy win was a relief to Spurs fans who remembered their teams' last two second-round Game 5s. Playing the Lakers both times, San Antonio won on a Los Angeles miss in the closing seconds two years ago, then lost last year on Derek Fisher's amazing buzzer-beater.

The Game 5 winner went on to end the series the next game in '03 and '04. The Spurs would love to do that Thursday night in Seattle, where the Sonics have won both games so far in the series. History is on San Antonio's side the rest of the way because Game 5 winners have won 103 of the 123 seven-game series that were tied at 2.

"I don't know if it was pivotal, but it was important for our team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Sonics forward Rashard Lewis missed his second straight game because of a sprained left big toe. He may return Thursday night.

The three-guard lineup Seattle used effectively to replace their All-Star in Game 4 helped them get back into this one after their slow start. Yet no matter what combination the Sonics had on the court, they couldn't slow Ginobili.

A starter the entire season and the playoff opener, Ginobili had been the team's energizer off the bench the last eight games. Both he and Popovich downplayed the importance of putting him back with the first unit. More relevant to Ginobili was hitting two early 3-pointers, which forced Seattle to cover him more on the perimeter, thus opening up his driving lanes.

He finished 10-of-15 from the field and 15-of-17 from the line. He also had six assists and four rebounds, and withstood a flagrant foul from Damien Wilkins in the closing minutes.

"I was very concerned about bringing a lot of juice, energy," he said. "It didn't matter if it was after 6 minutes or from the start. I wanted to drive to the basket and make things happen."

Mohammed, who had just 19 points in the series coming into Game 5, was 8-of-10 with seven rebounds while also posting his career playoff high in points.

Tim Duncan had 20 points and 14 rebounds for San Antonio, while Tony Parker was 4-of-13 for just 11 points on his 23rd birthday.

"Manu was awesome," Duncan said. "Tony and myself weren't playing great games, but he found a way to take us over that hump."

Antonio Daniels scored 17 points for Seattle and Nick Collison added 14. Luke Ridnour had 12 and Jerome James 10, but the Sonics still haven't rekindled the magic that made them one of just three teams to win in San Antonio this season. Their only lead on the Spurs' court this postseason was 4-2 in Game 2.

McMillan stressed the importance of a good start because the Sonics trailed by 12 and 13 after the first quarter of the first two games here. It didn't sink in as Allen threw the ball out of bounds on the opening possession. James had two fouls before the Sonics finally scored. Still, they trailed just 7-2. They finally tied the game at the end of the second quarter behind a 9-1 run led by Allen and aided by three missed foul shots by Duncan.

Then came the game-breaking start of the third quarter.

San Antonio was tenacious from the start, getting an immediate offensive rebound, then trapping Allen and forcing him to throw a bad pass that Ginobili stole. He cashed it into two free throws, then another Seattle turnover led to a dunk by Mohammed and a timeout by McMillan. It hardly helped as Ginobili came back with two 3-pointers to boost the lead to 67-53.

"There were times we just got outworked," McMillan said.

Game notes

Ginobili and Mohammed combined for San Antonio's first 24 points of the third quarter. ... Dominique Wilkins, aka "The Human Highlight Film," had to be smiling when nephew Damien faked Robert Horry on a 3, then drove past several Spurs for a dunk that brought everyone on Seattle's bench to their feet. ... The Spurs had nine turnovers after committing 23 in Game 4.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 90 103
FGM-FGA 34-74 (.459) 36-78 (.462)
3PM-3PA 3-13 (.231) 6-17 (.353)
FTM-FTA 19-26 (.731) 25-34 (.735)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-39 15-42
Assists 12 15
Turnovers 13 9
Steals 4 3
Blocks 4 3
Fast Break Points 0 6
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 31 (2/1) 28 (1/0)
Largest Lead 0 16

Top Performers

San Antonio
Ray Allen Allen
Points: 19
Reb: 4
Ast: 6
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Manu Ginobili Ginobili
Points: 39
Reb: 4
Ast: 6
Stl: 2
Blk: 0