The days of San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili scoring a ton of points are long, long gone.
These days he’s a selective sniper, an aging star who can still rise to the occasion when the game matters most and time on the clock is running down.
Boston saw this play out first-hand on Friday in a 105-102 loss to San Antonio with the game-winning basket coming from – who else? - Ginobili.
He would finish with 11 points, including a 3-pointer just before the half and then the game-winner with five seconds to play.
“The two plays made at the end of the half and the end of the game were vintage Manu,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “I said before the game, he’s one of the best players at the end of quarters I’ve ever seen. And now I wish I hadn’t said it.”
With the score tied at 102, a fade-away jumper by LaMarcus Aldridge was off the mark only to be rebounded by Ginobili.
Defended by Jayson Tatum at the time, the Spurs were able to get a switch with Ginobili being defended by Al Horford.
Horford, one of the better big men defensively when it comes to switches, contested Ginobili’s shot about as well as you can.
It didn’t matter.
Ginobili’s shot hit nothing but the bottom of the net, lifting the Spurs (18-8) to victory while handing the Celtics (22-5) their first loss after four consecutive wins.
While disappointed with the result, Stevens had no issues with how the Celtics defended what turned out to be the game-winning shot by Ginobili.
“We did a great job of guarding it,” Stevens said. “Al went out; Al challenged high. They ended up, Jayson tried to push him over the screen … and Al challenged (the shot). Hat-tip to Ginobili; that’s all that is. That’s great defense.”