Manu Ginobili has made some incredible plays throughout his 10-year NBA career, but the play he made on Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers may be his most impressive.
It started with a missed 3-pointer by Ginobili from the wing. The ball caromed near two Lakers, Pau Gasol and Matt Barnes, but neither one could secure the rebound because of the hustle of Spurs center Tiago Splitter, who knocked the ball toward Ginobili near halfcourt.
As soon as ball got to Ginobili’s hands, he took a quick peek at the Lakers’ defense and saw teammate Matt Bonner wide open under the basket. He wasted little time in getting the ball to Bonner, firing a bullet pass through a tight window and rocketing it past the outstretched arms of Josh McRoberts and Metta World Peace. ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said “NFL quarterbacks would have loved that pass,” and Van Gundy wasn’t exaggerating. Ginobili looked like left-handed Brett Favre, staring down a receiver in the end zone and whipping a 100-mph fastball for a touchdown. The laser pass is easily one of the 10 best plays of the season. See for yourself:
The play was the signature moment of the Spurs’ 121-97 destruction of the third-best team in the Western Conference. San Antonio’s big three of Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan – a trio many have written off at the beginning of the season – combined for 61 points and made 24 of the team’s 47 field goals.
It was the second straight blowout for the Spurs against their archrivals, proving to the rest of the West that they’re far from done. When asked what the priority is as the regular season winds down, Duncan said “stay healthy.”
“It’s always been stay healthy,” said the Spurs All-Star forward. “We feel if we’re healthy going to the playoffs, we love our chances.”
Health was a major issue a year ago when the Spurs limped into the postseason despite owning the league’s best record. Ginobili severely sprained his elbow in the final week of the regular season and he was not the same in the first-round series against Memphis.
This season, Ginobili, Duncan and Parker all look fresh and are playing at their best. Duncan may be the franchise player and Parker may be the team MVP, but Ginobili is the engine that drives the San Antonio machine.