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OKC Thunder: Spurs' Manu Ginobili is a ballplayer the Thunder must fear

The veteran virtually carried San Antonio in the fourth quarter of a Game 1 victory.
by Mike Sherman Published: May 27, 2012

He was most deadly, however, attacking the basket. With San Antonio trailing 71-62, Ginobili executed a perfect pick-and-roll with reserve Tiago Splitter for a layup on the first possession of the fourth quarter. And right then it felt like something had changed.

“That's Manu's game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's a scorer. He's somebody we depend on to create and make things happen. Whether it's shooting or driving or assisting somebody else. That's what he's done for us his whole career. And it's very important to us.

“Without that, we have a tough time winning.”

Count me among the folks who have compared Thunder sixth-man extraordinaire James Harden to Ginobili. I think I've assigned a story or 12 to Darnell Mayberry on that very topic.

After Game 1, I think I'll quietly back away from that thought for a while.

“He's just left-handed and crafty,” said Harden, who knows left-handed and crafty when he sees it, even when it's blowing past him. “He can get to the rim. He made plays in the fourth quarter. We've got to do a better job of containing him and make him make passes. Like I've said, he had a very good fourth quarter.”

I don't know if James noticed, but Ginobili was pretty fierce at the end of the first quarter, when he scored seven straight points at a time the Thunder looked poised to run wild on the Spurs.

“Ginobili was terrific tonight, guys,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He was making shots, making threes, getting to the basket, getting to the foul line. That's what he does. He finds cracks that you don't think it's even possible.

“He figures it out to get in there and get through to our guys.”

Now it's Brooks' job to get this through to them: Manu Ginobili with the basketball in his hand is scary.

by Mike Sherman
Sports Editor
Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman, where he has a combined 18 years of service during two stints as a writer and an editor. He covered high school sports for The Oklahoman from 1984-93. He also worked as a news writer for the...
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