When the Rockets got the ball to Harden about eight feet beyond the arc, he used a pick to swing around to the three-point line, and it looked like he had a wide-open chance to tie the game.
It was a superb clutch defensive play from the 39-year-old Argentinian, which gives the Spurs a precious lead as the series heads to Houston for Game 6 on Thursday.
James Harden No.13 of the Houston Rockets takes a shot against Manu Ginobili No.20 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals at AT&T Center on Wednesday in San Antonio, Texas. Leonard was walking slowly, but without a noticeable limp, as he arrived at the team's shootaround in Houston on Thursday morning.
As the starting point guard in Game 5, Patty Mills took it upon himself Tuesday night to rally the troops after it was clear an injured left ankle would prevent Kawhi Leonard from returning to the court.
"I was trying to keep them in front of me", Harden said. Ginobili had a turn back the clock performance, scoring 12 points on 5 of 11 shooting (45.5 percent) while grabbing seven boards and dishing out five assists. They play great at home. The Spurs and the Rockets combined for a total of 81 three-point attempts, missing double the attempts (54) that they made (27). The record-setting Rockets have rolled when they've made their 3-pointers, hitting 22 in Game 1 and 19 more in Game 4. "I didn't think about it too much on the way here, but I'll think about it and I'll let you know tomorrow or the next day or maybe not".
Leonard left the game with 34.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter and remained on the bench through the end of regulation and overtime.
They had the Spurs behind by nine points in the third quarter, with Leonard hobbling and Popovich searching, and couldn't close the deal. Those averages go down to 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists on 14 shots in the Spurs' two defeats. After Anderson answered, giving his team the lead 107-106, Green came back for an three-point play on Harden with just 30 seconds to go. The Spurs will have to win in Houston for the second time this series to avoid a Game 7 in San Antonio.
The victor of the series will play the Golden State Warriors for a place in the NBA Finals. Houston play a historically fast paced offense, play with energy, used limited substitutions, and played a long game.