SAN ANTONIO – Manu Ginobili started his day playing with his kids in a pile of snow that fell across South Texas. He ended it by burying the Celtics with a game-winning rainbow three-pointer that lifted San Antonio to a 105-102 win over Boston.
Ginobili made the shot with five seconds remaining to hand Boston only its fifth loss of the season.
The Spurs won their third straight to improve to 18-8 without the services of Kawhi Leonard.
“It was just a shot, it just went in,” Ginobili said. “(Al) Horford contested great, I just gave it a little more air, shot it higher and it just went in. I think I got even a little lucky because it’s not my usual shot.”
“Manu told me a lot of years ago, ‘this is what I do.’ He’s amazing,” said head coach Gregg Popovich. “He loves those moments and he’s come through an awful lot and he did it again tonight. At age 40.”
Ginobili’s shot came after a grind it out effort against one of the league’s best teams. The Spurs fell behind 11-0, but battled back to cut the lead to five points at the end of the first quarter.
MANU GONNA MANU FOR THE WIN!! pic.twitter.com/9jhg4aUGBO— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 9, 2017
Their only lead of the first half came when Ginobili hit another buzzer-beater at the end of the second quarter to put the Spurs ahead 56-55 at halftime.
“That for sure was a lucky shot, for sure,” Ginobili said.
The second half was a physical, back-and-forth affair that featured several lead changes.
The Spurs came back from a five-point deficit at the end of the third quarter in large part due to LaMarcus Aldridge’s performance.
Aldridge led the team with 27 points and added 10 rebounds. Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Rudy Gay chipped in with 15 points.
“Boston is a wonderful team, the best defensive team in the league and as I said earlier, Brad’s (Stevens) execution that he gets out of his kids is fantastic,” Popovich said. “We’re thrilled with the win.”
Boston was led by Kyrie Irving, who scored 36 points. Irving had a chance to tie the game at the end of the fourth, but his 3-point attempt rattled in-and-out of the rim.
“At the end of the day it comes down to what team is going to get the final stop,” Irving said after the game. “Manu hits two big bombs, in halftime and for the game winner, 40-year-old still impressing everyone.”
When asked to describe Ginobili in one word, Gay said he's a “maneuver.”
Gay added, “It’s crazy how underrated he is as far as all-time greats, it’s a player I’ve always watched and always admired.”
“He’s a winner. He’s a competitor,” said Pau Gasol. “He gives everything he’s got and that’s what makes him so special.”
After a long, rewarding day, Ginobili may get some rest. He said after the game that five-to-six Spurs players will not travel for Saturday’s game at Phoenix.
He did not say who those players would be, but after Friday night, it’s a good bet he might be on the list.
Ginobili, after the game, was asked if he really was 40-years-old. “Yeah, I’m telling you, you should feel what I’m feeling now.”