Pick your San Antonio Spurs storyline, there were a bunch. No matter the lede, the result is the same. The Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 114-104 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
The home win puts them ahead in the series 3-2. The two teams return to Miami to play Game 6 on Tuesday, and perhaps Game 7 on Thursday.
San Antonio had a host of great stories emerge from its performance Sunday night. Gregg Popovich opted to give Manu Ginobili his first start of the season, and his veteran responded with 24 points and 10 assists. He shot 8-of-14 from the field, and took over the game at the end of the third quarter.
Danny Green presented another great story. The shooting guard who played in the D-League this season broke Ray Allen's NBA record for most three pointers ever in a Finals series. He was 6-of-10 from beyond the arc in Game 5, going for 24 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Yet neither Ginobili nor Green led the Spurs in scoring. It was a supposedly injured Tony Parker who poured in 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting. The Heat threw numerous defenders his way, but no one could match up with the quickness and efficiency of Parker.
All five starters for the Spurs tallied 16 or more points, with Tim Duncan getting 17 and 12 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard registering 16 points.
The Heat kept pace offensively late, but it was simply too easy for the Spurs to get buckets in the second half. They were running unobstructed lanes to the rim and shooting open mid-range jumpers throughout the fourth quarter.
After slumping through four games, Ginobili responded to his new role with 11 points and six assists in the first half. He helped the Spurs build a large initial lead and maintain it through a Heat charge that made the score 61-52 at halftime.
Two straight turnovers by San Antonio contributed to an 8-0 Miami run to open the second half. The Spurs withstood the run though, and Danny Green's record-setting trey with 9:40 to go pushed his team ahead 66-59.
Parker started turning on the jets in transition, proving to be too quick for Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers. He scored or assisted on eight of the Spurs first 14 points in the third quarter. A layup with 4:46 left gave San Antonio a 75-67 lead.
Just when a Wade jumper and Shane Battier free throw brought the Heat to within one, the Spurs put together three straight solid possessions. Green nailed another three, followed by five straight points for Ginobili to make it 83-74 inside two minutes.
Ginobili scored or assisted on 16 of the Spurs' 26 third-quarter points, including all of the final nine. San Antonio closed the quarter on a 12-1 run that put it ahead 87-75 entering the final quarter.
If the Heat were planning on making a run to open the quarter and get back into the game, they failed miserably. The Spurs scored the first seven points of the fourth, led by a Kawhi Leonard's second three of the night. The score was 94-75 with 9:32 to go.
Ray Allen connected on his second four-point play of the game, and followed it up with another three to cut into the Spurs lead. A Chris Bosh dunk with 7:28 to play cut the deficit to 13, at 98-85.
Another Allen trey, his fourth of the game, brought the Heat to within 11 inside three minutes. Allen scored again and had the visitors down single digits. San Antonio led only 109-101 with 1:27 to go.
Miami's 9-0 run was halted by a Parker drive. That was almost predictably followed by another Green trey, putting the Spurs ahead 114-101 with 1:06 to go. That iced the game and put all thoughts of a miraculous comeback out of the Heat's mind.
The Heat will have to take a look at their defensive strategy and make serious adjustments before taking the court in South Beach Tuesday night.