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Ballin': Gary Neal Saves San Antonio's Season

San Antonio 110, Memphis 103, OT: Reserve Gary Neal extended the Spurs’ season for at least one more game with this tough 3-pointer at the buzzer, and San Antonio pulled away in overtime. When you hear the Spurs’ announcers celebrating Neal’s shot and they reference “we don’t need no stinkin’ replay,” they’re talking about this shot, moments earlier by Manu Ginobili (:20 mark of the video after the jump).

Mentally, will a Memphis team that’s never won anything easily be able to bounce back at home Friday night? Or were the Ginobili-Neal shots just what the Spurs’ needed to breathe life into their postseason? The Grizzlies did nothing wrong in game five – well, outside of a terrible possession in overtime following a timeout that ruined any shot of winning the game – taking the lead in the third quarter and looking poised to advance. It took two freaky shots to save the Spurs.

If you go back to the Gary Neal play, the big mistake was made by Shane Battier, who should have drifted to the 3-point shooter (Neal) instead of following Tim Duncan, who set a screen. Ginobili led the Spurs with 33 points; Zach Randolph scored 26 points and took 11 rebounds.

Oklahoma City 100, Denver 97: The Nuggets let a 9-point lead with just under four minutes slip away as Kevin Durant took over and got the Thunder their first playoff series win since moving from Seattle. Durant (41 points) scored nine straight late, and then blocked a JR Smith shot attempt that would have sent the game to overtime. Moments earlier, Serge Ibaka thwarted a Nene dunk attempt for his ninth swat of the game.

After Durant let Westbrook jack up 30 shots in Sunday’s game four loss, I predicted 44 points for Durant in a series-clinching victory. Westbrook, feeling the heat the last two days, struggling again, making 3-of-15 shots. The Thunder attempted 42 free throws to Denver’s 21 and dominated the offensive glass 16-4. The Thunder now await the Grizzlies or the Spurs.

Miami 97, Philadelphia 91: The Sixers had a chance to send it to overtime, but trailing by three with :16 left, Doug Collins instead drew up a 2-point attempt. Andre Iguodala’s jumper was off – LeBron prevented him from getting to the hoop – and the Heat closed out pesky Philly. Can’t blame Iguodala for the shot – he had his best game of the series, shooting 10-of-14 and scoring 22 points while collecting 10 rebounds. I have issues with the play call, but Collins coached a great series, even in defeat.

Interesting gambling note: The over was 187, and the Heat could have run out the clock, but D Wade raced in for a dunk with less than a second left and gamblers everywhere rejoiced or cried. Wade had 26, Bosh 22, LeBron – whose silly breakfast analogy nearly came back to bite him in the ass – 16. The big surprise was Mario Chalmers, who made 6 three-pointers and scored 20 points (and to a lesser extent Joel Anthony, who had a late block and two clutch free throws). Rookie Evan Turner had a real nice game for the Sixers – at the defensive end. But he was only 2-for-10 shooting, including a tough late miss with Philly trailing by two.

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