Posted on May 7, 2013 at 8:40 AM
Thursday, Dec 5 at 3:04 PM
Whew. Pardon me while I catch my breath.
Yogi Berra was right. It ain't over till it's over.
Spurs 129, Golden State Warriors 127.
In double overtime.
"It was a crazy game," Spurs point guard Tony Parker said.
It was so crazy that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich looked ashen, drained, as he talked to the media after the game.
Those who stayed and watched the Spurs' thrilling comeback victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal series Monday night will remember it for years to come.
Those who walked out of the AT&T Center in droves when the Warriors led 104-88 with 4:31 left will regret leaving and missing the end of one of the most exciting playoff games in Spurs history.
"We just had to keep fighting," Parker said. "We just tried to hang on. We had a great run at the end."
As Yogi said, it ain't over till it's over.
Right, Manu Ginobili?
After struggling through one of his worst shooting nights of the season, Ginobili nailed a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to give the Spurs the improbable victory.
"It wasn't my best shooting night, but it really helps when you hit the last one," Ginobili said.
Ginobili's big shot rekindles memories of Memorial Day Miracle
Ginobili finished with 16 points, but he hit only 5 of 20 shots and was 2 of 9 from beyond the arc. That might explain why the Warriors left him so wide open on the Spurs' last possession, but if they were going with percentages, their gamble backfired badly.
As anybody who has followed Ginobili's career would attest, he's a gamer who can be 0-for-whatever and still score the critical basket at the end.
Still, Ginobili very easily could have been the goat of the game after he missed an ill-advised 27-foot 3-pointer with 44.1 seconds left and the Spurs up 126-123. That left the door wide open for the Warriors, who took a 127-126 lead on back-to-back layups by Stephen Curry and Kent Bazemore.
Bazemore's basket came with 3.9 seconds left. The Spurs promptly called a full timeout and then a 20-second timeout with 3.4 seconds remaining before Kawhi Leonard, who was inbounding the ball, hit Ginobili with a cross-court pass.
Wide open, Ginobili drained the 3-pointer in front of the Warriors' bench. His game-winner will rank up there in Spurs lore with the Memorial Day Miracle in 1999, when Sean Elliott buried a trey to give the Spurs a scintillating victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the West semifinals.
Popovich drew laughter during his postgame news conference when a reporter asked him to describe his range of emotions between Ginobili's last two 3-pointers.
"That's great," Popovich said. "You're a very observant man. I went from trading him on the spot to wanting to cook him breakfast tomorrow. That's the truth.
"When I talk to him and say 'Manu.' He goes 'This is what I do.' That's what he's going to tell me. I stopped coaching him a long time ago."
Ginobili: 'We won and that's what counts now'
Ginobili was asked if Popovich told him anything after he took the long 3-pointer that missed.
"No, he didn't say a word," Ginobili said. "He has faces that mean a lot and I already knew that when I shot that one from the top of the key. I kind of turned and from the side of my eye, I saw his body language.
"He was right. It was a terrible shot in a key moment. So it really helped me that I made that last shot because it would have been a tough night. We won and that's what counts now."
Ginobili's game-winning shot stole the thunder from Warriors shooting phenom Stephen Curry, who finished with 44 points and 11 assists. He made 18 of 35 field-goal attempts, including 6 of 14 from beyond the arc.
Curry was virtually unstoppable in the third quarter, hitting 9 of 12 shots and scoring 22 points. He nailed 4 of 6 treys in the period, which ended with the Warriors leading 92-80.
So what now?
How will the wear-and-tear of a double-overtime game affect the Spurs, and how will the Warriors react to the heart-wrenching loss?
"After all of those minutes played, everybody was exhausted," Ginobili said. "You give everything you have in every minute you play. Playing an extra 10 is tough. The most I've played in the last month was 20 minutes and today it was 36.
"Tony Parker had to play 48, and we're not used to that. In a game that emotional, it's tougher. I need a good day of rest tomorrow and some rehab. Then we'll come back for another really tough one in two days."
Game 2 is at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the AT&T Center.
Brace yourselves. Considering how the Warriors are playing, it could be another crazy game.