SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Boston Celtics are flush with young talent, but those youthful legs were done in by a 40-year-old Spurs veteran fresh from a “killer nap.”
Manu Ginobili, who has teetered on the brink of retirement the past two offseasons, hit a high-arcing 3-pointer with 5 seconds remaining and San Antonio beat Boston 105-102 on Friday night, snapping the Celtics’ four-game winning streak.
“Like he told me a lot of years ago, ‘This is what I do,'” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s amazing. He loves those moments and he’s come through an awful lot and he did it again tonight. At age 40.”
The veteran’s heroics enabled San Antonio to escape Kyrie Irving’s 36-point effort for Boston.
“I said before the game he’s probably the best player, one of the best players, at the end of quarters I’ve ever seen,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “Now I wish I hadn’t said it.”
Ginobili rose earlier than normal on game day to enjoy a rare snowstorm in San Antonio with his family, but he recovered by taking a refreshing nap.
The added sleep was beneficial as Ginobili set up the winning basket by sprinting into the paint for an offensive rebound with 25.8 seconds left. He eventually was able to get Boston rookie Jayson Tatum to switch off him defensively, allowing him to shoot a rainbow shot over a charging Al Horford.
“Horford contested great, I just gave him a little more air,” Ginobili said. “Shot it higher and it just went in. I think I got even a little lucky because it’s not my usual shot. I had to shoot it higher.”
LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio.
Irving, who scored a career-high 57 points against San Antonio in 2015 while with Cleveland, created havoc again at the AT&T Center. Irving finished 13 for 21, including 6 for 10 on 3-pointers, but missed his final two 3s. His final 3-point attempt rattled in and out as the buzzer sounded.
“I thought it was cash money,” Irving said of his final attempt. “I thought it was going to hit the bottom of the net, and I obviously didn’t put enough on it. It was a good play call, you know just happens. I’m just going to replay it, probably for about 33 more minutes, then I’ll be over it.”
The Spurs, already without Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Anderson, lost Danny Green in the first half. Green left with tightness in his left groin. There was no update on the severity of the injury, but Popovich said he doesn’t expect him to travel with the team for their upcoming road trip.
“We’ve got to remember we played the best team in the league so far, the best defense in the league without Kawhi, without Tony in the last few minutes and without Danny in the second half,” Ginobili said. “Danny, for us, is a key player. We fought hard, we stayed in the game and then it was a lottery.”
Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Rudy Gay had 15 points, and Tony Parker added 11 for the Spurs, who are undefeated with Parker in the lineup through six games.
San Antonio held Boston to one field goal in the opening 4 minutes of the final quarter to erase a five-point deficit and set up the last-second dramatics.
Tatum had 20 points, and Jaylen Brown added 15 for the Celtics.
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