The Spurs' stalwart hadn't seen the starting lineup all season until Sunday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and he did not disappoint. The Argentine scored 24 points and dished out 10 assists in a throwback performance as the Spurs built a big early lead and held off multiple charges by the Heat to win 114-104 and take a 3-2 series lead.
Ginobili, at 35 years old, has struggled this season, but he turned back the clock on this night. His 24 points were a personal season best. He shot 8-for-14 for the game.
The series now shifts to Miami for Game 6 on Tuesday. If necessary, Game 7 would be Thursday, also in Miami.
San Antonio went on a 15-2 run to end the first quarter to open up an early 32-19 lead. The Heat weathered the storm — San Antonio shot 62 percent from the field in the first half — and trailed 61-52 at the break.
After Miami started the third on an 8-0 run to trim the lead to 61-60, the Spurs closed the quarter on a 26-15 clip to put the distance back.
San Antonio led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter, but once again, the Heat rallied, getting as close as eight in the final 90 seconds before the Spurs finally put them away.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 26 points. Danny Green (more on him in a minute) also had 24. Tim Duncan added 17 and Kawhi Leonard had 16.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade paced the Heat with 25 apiece.
Perhaps there was a sentimental motive to starting Ginobili?
San Antonio crowd letting Ginobili hear it. "Manu" chants abound in what could be his final game here
Actually, Green is now up to 25 3-pointers for the series after hitting his fifth and sixth of this game in the second half.
LeBron throws down a nice alley-oop
There weren't many highlights for the Heat, who were playing catch-up most of the game, but LeBron provided one in the up-and-down, hectic early stages of the game.
Mario Chalmers tried to hook up with James on an alley-oop around the 9:45 mark of the first quarter, but LeBron couldn't throw it down. Forty seconds later, Mike Miller and LeBron tried again and this time it worked:
There was a bit of controversy just a minute into the game. Ginobili hit a 3-pointer to start the scoring. Except it shouldn't have been a 3-pointer. Replays clearly showed Ginobili's foot was on the line.
The game proceeded with the incorrect point total for several minutes before the call was ultimately reversed and the point taken back.
Darius Rucker shows up for anthem this time
Hopes of a third straight game with this awesome kid singing the national anthem were dashed when country singer Darius Rucker came out ahead of Game 5 to belt it out.
Sebastien De La Cruz, just 11 years old, gained fame in the past week with his memorable renditions and his classy response to some vocal racist reaction to his presence at the game.
De La Cruz was only in the building for Game 3 because Rucker didn't show up. Guess Rucker was tired of being upstaged.
Birdman and Bosh win best-dressed honors
Your pre-game best-dressed award has to go to Chris Andersen, who showed up in hunter's gear ahead of Game 5:
(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Also, a very nice effort with the pants here from Chris Bosh: