MIAMI -- Just 5.2 seconds separated the Spurs from winning Game 6 and clinching the fifth championship of the Gregg Popovich era. So, so close -- virtually as close as a team can come to winning a title -- but a game-tying three-pointer from Ray Allen in the closing seconds of regulation snatched the ring off San Antonio's collective finger. The Heat prevailed in overtime 103-100, forcing a Game 7 on Thursday and leaving the Spurs to wonder if they had squandered their best shot at the title.
In the moments immediately following the game, San Antonio's key players all looked to be wearing varying shades of disappointment, but no one was as shaken as Manu Ginobili, who finished with nine points (on 2-for-5 shooting), three assists and a career-high eight turnovers.
"I have no clue how we're going to be reenergized," Ginobili responded, when reminded that San Antonio must pull itself together for Game 7 on Thursday night in Miami. "I'm devastated. But we have to. There's no Game 8 afterwards."
The pill was as bitter as it gets for Ginobili, who shook off an up-and-down postseason and plenty of criticism earlier in the series to tally 24 points and 10 assists in San Antonio's Game 5 win on Sunday. He never had much of a feel for the game on Tuesday, though, and he said the game's sharp turn at the end would make for a sleepless night.
"It's a tough moment," he said. "We were a few seconds away from winning the championship and we let it go. ... We were in a great spot. We just gave them another chance and it hurts because it's one of those moments where you're going to be thinking about what we could have done better in the last few possessions, so many times, all night long, all tomorrow, until the next game. It's terrible."
Ginobili made a point to say after Game 5 that he doesn't care if he scores a lot as long as the Spurs play well and emerge victorious. Here, he had to weigh the inverse scenario: rather than playing well in a win, he made mistake after mistake in a game that could have produced a championship had he played with greater care.
"I was very insecure," Ginobili said of his ball handling. "I had a career-high in turnovers in a really bad moment. It really helps to make me feel terrible. Even with all of that, we were so close to winning it. It's one of the many things I'll be thinking tonight."
Tim Duncan, who finished with a team-high 30 points and 17 rebounds, said that he expects Ginobili will find a way to bounce back mentally before the Spurs and Heat take the court for the final game of the 2012-13 season.