6/17/2013 2:00:00 AM Weekend roundup: Ginobili shines as Spurs win Game 5; Bruins even Cup Finals with Blackhawks; Mets stun Cubs; Astros sweep Sox
Spurs 114, Heat 104 (Spurs lead 3-2)
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Manu Ginobili ran onto the floor as fans stood and screamed.
He went to the bench, and they chanted his name.
The sights and sounds of so many San Antonio spring nights were back Sunday - and the real party might be just a few days away.
Ginobili broke out of a slump in a big way with 24 points and 10 assists in his first start of the season, and the Spurs beat the Miami Heat 114-104 to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.
Tony Parker scored 26 points, Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Ginobili had his highest-scoring game of the season as the Spurs became the first team to shoot 60 percent in a finals game in four years.
"He's such a huge part of what we do and how far we've come. You can see it tonight in how we played and the results of the game," Duncan said. "We're always confident in him. ... we know he has it in him. We hope he can bring it forward for one more win."
Danny Green smashed the NBA Finals record for 3-pointers, hitting six more and scoring 24 points. Kawhi Leonard finished with 16, but the stage was set when Ginobili trotted out with Duncan, Parker and the rest of starters in what could have been the last finals home game for a trio that's meant so much to San Antonio.
One more victory and the Spurs' Big Three, not Miami's, will be the one that rules the NBA.
And a big reason was Ginobili, as he's been for so long - just not during what had been a miserable series for the former Sixth Man of the Year.
"I was angry, disappointed," Ginobili said. "We are playing in the NBA Finals, we were 2-2, and I felt I still wasn't really helping the team that much," Ginobili said. "And that was the frustrating part."
On Sunday, it was all forgotten.
"He's obviously very popular. He's been here a long time. He's helped us have a lot of success over the years," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each scored 25 points for the Heat, who host Game 6 on Tuesday night. They need a victory to force the first Game 7 in the finals since the Lakers beat the Celtics in 2010.
Miami's Big Three formed a few weeks after that game, with predictions of multiple titles to follow. Now they're a loss away from going just 1 for 3 in finals to start their partnership, while the Spurs could run their perfect record to 5 for 5.
"This is the position we're in and the most important game is Game 6," James said. "We can't worry about a Game 7, we have to worry about Game 6."
Duncan won his first title in 1999, and Parker and Ginobili were with him for three championships since. They have been the perfect partnership, keeping the Spurs in the hunt virtually every year while teams like the Lakers, Mavericks and Suns have all risen and fallen in the Western Conference during that time.
They remained unbeaten in Game 5s, including two previous victories when the series was tied at 2-2. Of the 27 times the finals have been tied at 2-2, the Game 5 winner has won 20 of them.
Miami was the most recent loser, falling to Dallas in Game 5 in 2011 before being eliminated at home the next game.
"We're going to see if we're a better ballclub and if we're better prepared for this moment," Wade said.
San Antonio shot 42 of 70, right at 60 percent. The last team to make 60 percent of its shots in the finals was Orlando, which hit 62.5 in Game 3 against the Lakers in 2009, according to STATS.
"They just absolutely outplayed us," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "At times they were just picking one guy out at a time and going at us mano-a-mano. That's got to change."
Ray Allen scored 21 points on the night for the Heat as he watched Green shatter his finals 3-point record. Green has 25 3s in the series. Allen made 22 3-pointers in six games in 2008 finals for Boston.
Chris Bosh scored 16 for Miami, Wade had 10 assists, and James had eight assists and six rebounds, but it was their defense that let the Heat down in this one.
The Heat were within one with 3:05 left in the third before Green hit yet another 3-pointer and Ginobili followed with the stretch that turned the game into the fourth straight blowout of the finals.
The crafty lefty plays with a flair developed on the courts of Argentina and perfected in Europe before coming to the NBA. He sees angles other players can't and takes risks few others would, but his style has been the perfect fit alongside Duncan and Parker.
He converted a three-point play, tossed in a floater with his left hand as he drifted right, and found Tiago Splitter under the hoop with a pass to make it 85-74. He flipped in another runner with 2.9 seconds to go, sending the Spurs to the fourth with an 87-75 lead as fans chanted "Manu! Manu!" during the break between the third and fourth quarters.
Ginobili had been averaging just 7.5 points on 34.5 percent shooting in the series, making only three of his 16 3-point attempts. But Popovich made the finals' second lineup change in two games, after the Heat inserted Mike Miller to start Game 4.
Ginobili didn't make a start this season and certainly hadn't been playing like someone who belonged with the first five. But in the Spurs' biggest game of the season, they remained confident he would break out, and they were right.
"I knew that I was not scoring much and I felt it in the air. But I tried not to care about it. I know I'm critical enough of myself to be worrying about what other people say," Ginobili said.
It was the first time he scored 24 or more points since having 34 on June 4, 2012, against Oklahoma City, according to STATS.
The AT&T Center crowd roared when Ginobili was the last starter announced, the cheers growing louder when he made a jumper - originally ruled a 3-pointer but later overturned by replay - on the first possession. He assisted on the Spurs' next three baskets, and it was 15-10 when he later hit a 3 that did count.
Parker picked it up from there, dancing his way into the lane repeatedly and scoring seven points in a 12-0 run that made it 29-17. Leonard's 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left, on an assist from Ginobili, made it 32-19 and gave the Spurs 12 makes in 19 attempts (63 percent) in the opening 12 minutes.
Green's third straight 3-pointer made it 45-28 about 5 minutes into the second quarter, and it seemed the trend of blowouts would continue. But James suddenly got rolling during a 14-2 Miami spurt that cut it to five on his third consecutive Heat basket.
San Antonio made 21 of 34 shots (62 percent) in the first half, opening a 61-52 lead on Parker's drive with 0.4 seconds left.
Miami then ran off eight in a row to start the second half and get within one. They cut it to one again later in the period before Ginobili led the flurry that finished the Heat for good.
It was a fitting finish if it was the last home game in the finals for San Antonio's star trio, which has combined for 101 playoff victories together. Ginobili has said he might think about retirement as he turns 36 next month, and Duncan is 37.
Both coaches said it was difficult waiting two days between games - Popovich said it was "like death" - though he did say it was great for the Spurs because they have some older players.
The break seemed to help his team early, particularly Parker, whose energy sagged in the second of Game 4 as he struggled with a strained hamstring that he said could tear at any time and would've had him sidelined during the regular season.
If things fall right for the Spurs, he'll have plenty of time to heal after Tuesday.
Bruins 2, Blackhawks 1 (OT, Saturday, series tied 1-1)
CHICAGO (AP) - The Boston Bruins were mad when they played poorly in the first period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals. Then they went out and got even with the Chicago Blackhawks.
This group of Bruins is one resilient bunch.
Daniel Paille scored at 13:48 in overtime and Boston used another great performance by Tuukka Rask to overcome a sluggish start in a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Saturday night, tying the series at a game apiece.
"We got rewarded because I thought from the second period on, we were a good team, a better team, and by the end I thought we had more chances," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
Three days after a three-overtime thriller in the opener, Boston and Chicago once again were tied after regulation. The Bruins then turned up their play and finally cashed in after goaltender Corey Crawford singlehandedly kept the Blackhawks in the game.
Brandon Bollig had a turnover in the Chicago end and Tyler Seguin passed it to Paille, who shot it under Crawford's glove and off the right post for his third goal of the playoffs. The slick shot sent the Bruins back to Boston with the momentum ahead of Game 3 tonight.
"We just kept the pressure on and Seggy threw the puck to me," Paille said. "I just popped out and had to shoot the puck quick, get it off my stick. I was able to send it post low. He made a good play passing it over instead of shooting."
Patrick Sharp scored for Chicago, which looked more and more gassed as the night wore on. Crawford made 26 saves.
"You've got to kind of swallow this one and move on," Sharp said. "We know what's on the line in this series and going into Boston's going to be tough, but we're ready for the challenge. We'll find a way to be better for Game 3."
Paille also had an assist on Chris Kelly's tying goal in the second, and Rask made 18 of his 33 stops in the first period.
"That's kind of how our room is. On any given night, someone can step up," Kelly said. "Paille showed that tonight."
The first two games of last year's Stanley Cup also went to overtime, with Los Angeles taking a 2-0 lead at New Jersey before going on to defeat the Devils in six games. Before last season, it had been 61 years since the first two games of the finals needed an extra period to decide the winner. In that 1951 Stanley Cup, each of the five games went to overtime, with Toronto taking the series against Montreal.
The way Chicago and Boston are playing, a repeat is certainly possible.
It was the third consecutive overtime game for the Blackhawks, who eliminated Los Angeles with a 4-3 victory in two overtimes in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, and then defeated Boston 4-3 in Wednesday night's marathon. Chicago dropped to 4-2 during OT games in this year's playoffs.
The Bruins lost the opener when Dave Bolland's tip went off Andrew Shaw's leg and past Rask for the winning score. They also blew a 3-1 third-period lead in that one, but seemed to have no problem putting the loss behind them that night.
After all, the same core group of Bruins dropped the first two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals against Vancouver and came back to win. They trailed 4-1 in the third period of Game 7 against Toronto in this postseason and came back to win.
It's a spirit that runs hand in hand with their home city these days. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Bruins talked about wanting to do something for the city, and they took another step toward that goal in Game 2.
"We're excited to come away with a win. But it's only 1-1," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "It's a long series. We have to start focusing on the next game, and start better."
The Bruins' final push was a stark contrast to the beginning of the game, with the Blackhawks looking refreshed during a dominant first period. The Bruins looked tired and slow, except for Rask, and he was enough to keep it close.
Rask turned away numerous prime opportunities for Chicago, but Sharp managed to score while the goaltender contended with a pile of bodies in front of the net. It was his ninth playoff goal, breaking a tie with Bryan Bickell for the team lead and matching Boston center David Krejci for the NHL's best total.
A few minutes later, Marian Hossa pushed Rask's pads and the puck just over the red line in goal. But the officials ruled the play had been whistled dead before the score.
"I thought the whistle was a little quick, but that's the way it is," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It's frustrating when the bounces don't go your way, but it is what it is."
When the first period was over, the Blackhawks had 19 shots on goal. Sharp (six) and Hossa (five) each had more shots than Boston had as a team (four).
It was not a pretty scene in the Bruins' locker room at intermission - Julien said there was "a bit of a chat." Still, Chicago only had a 1-0 lead.
"I think we were angry," Seguin said. "We were motivated. I think the guys just weren't happy in here. We knew we could be better. We were making mental mistakes."
Boston began to control the action in the second, leading to the tying score.
Paille had a takeaway against Sharp behind the net and then made a nice move to get to the other side of the goal. Crawford turned him away, but Kelly was there to poke in the rebound at 14:58.
Kelly's first playoff goal since April 12, 2012, against Washington and No. 11 for his career ended Boston's scoreless stretch of 1 hour, 40 minutes and 57 seconds dating to the third period of the opener.
"It's like the second period, I thought we lost the pace of the game on that end of the rink," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful. We stood around. They countered."
Mets 4, Cubs 3
NEW YORK (AP) - Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a three-run homer that capped a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Mets salvaged what had been shaping up as another sorry afternoon, startling the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on Sunday.
Matt Garza pitched seven scoreless innings, and the Cubs scored twice on a madcap play that featured three bad throws by Mets infielders, giving Chicago a 3-0 lead.
But New York came back against Carlos Marmol (2-4)in the ninth, starting with Marlon Byrd's leadoff home run. Nieuwenhuis connected with one out.
Bobby Parnell (5-3) pitched the top of the ninth. Mets starter Jeremy Hefner allowed one earned run and struck out five in five innings.
Garza gave up three hits and struck out five, and was all set up for his second win in five starts this season. The Cubs had used closer Kevin Gregg on four consecutive days and manager Dale Sveum turned to Marmol, who had been unseated as closer earlier this season.
Astros 5, White Sox 4
HOUSTON (AP) - Jason Castro homered for the second straight game and Matt Dominguez hit a three-run double to help Houston top the Chicago White Sox for its fourth straight win.
Dominguez put Houston on top 3-0 with a double in the second inning, and Castro hit a two-run shot to make it 5-2 in the seventh.
The left-handed Castro hit his first career home run off a left-hander on Saturday night when he connected off John Danks, and made it two against Matt Thornton on Sunday.
Alejandro De Aza tripled and scored in the sixth and Dayan Viciedo tripled and scored in the seventh to cut the lead to 3-2. De Aza added a two-out, two-run homer off Jose Veras to make it 5-4 in the ninth before Alexei Ramirez grounded out to give Veras his 14th save.
Houston starter Dallas Keuchel (4-3) yielded four hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings for the win.
Hector Santiago (2-5) allowed five hits and three runs with eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. The AL-Central-worst White Sox have dropped four straight overall and 12 of their last 13 road games.