Spurs Overcome Leonard Injury, Harden To Beat Rockets In OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs were in a tough spot after Kawhi Leonard hurt his ankle in the second half.

That’s when Danny Green and the Spurs’ supporting cast stepped up.

Green scored seven of his 16 points in overtime, helping San Antonio top James Harden and the Houston Rockets 110-107 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their second-round playoff series.

Harden had 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He had a chance at a potential tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of OT, but was blocked from behind by Manu Ginobili.

“I remember saying to a couple of the guys this is what we live for, these moments, to play in these situations,” Spurs point guard Patty Mills said. “Game 5, at home, you just try to soak it up and play hard. I guess that’s where all the passion comes out, at those moments. The diving on loose balls, coming up with whatever it may be, you’re throwing your body on the line in those situations.”

Leonard had 22 points and 15 rebounds in 38 minutes before exiting with an injured right ankle. He stepped on Harden’s foot while running back in transition with 5:37 left in the third quarter and then played limited minutes before sitting out overtime.

The Spurs already were without Tony Parker, who will miss the rest of the playoffs after surgery to repair a ruptured left quadriceps tendon.

“It was frustrating because I wanted to play,” Leonard said. “But I was happy seeing my teammates out there putting in a good effort and getting the win.”

Leonard said he will play in Game 6 on Thursday in Houston.

Green made a go-ahead 3-pointer and converted a three-point play to make it 109-107 Spurs with 30.1 seconds left. He also made a foul shot down the stretch to help San Antonio hold on.

“I think we all made a decision to be aggressive,” Green said of Leonard’s absence, “regardless of what was going to happen. We weren’t going to lose the game being on our heels.”

Two questionable plays closed regulation with the game tied at 101.

Harden was whistled for a charge after dribbling all but a few seconds off the shot clock before driving to the basket on Jonathon Simmons. The Spurs failed to take a shot on their final possession, with Mills banking in a 3-pointer after the buzzer sounded.

Harden also played solid defense, helping hold Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge to 15-for-42 shooting as he rotated assignments in Houston’s smaller lineup.

“I was trying to keep them in front of me,” Harden said. “Two All-Stars and even Pau (Gasol), who is 7-foot-something. I just tried to be aggressive and do the best that I can and help my team.”

But the defensive effort and facilitating Houston’s offense appeared to take a toll on Harden. He had four points on 1-for-6 shooting and four turnovers in the final five minutes of regulation and overtime. Harden, who finished with nine turnovers, said he was not fatigued despite playing 43 minutes.

“I just missed shots,” Harden said.

The Spurs tried to exploit a size advantage over the Rockets’ small lineup early, especially when Harden was guarding either Aldridge and Gasol. The Spurs’ big men only managed 2-for-5 shooting in the opening three minutes, leading San Antonio to abandon the strategy midway through the first quarter and sub Simmons for Gasol.

Simmons responded by scoring 10 points on 5-for-13 shooting in 26 minutes.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Houston has lost four straight best-of-seven series when it was tied 2-2. The last time the Rockets won a series after being tied 2-2 was in the 1995 Western Conference finals when they beat the Spurs. … The Rockets have not lost to the Spurs in three previous postseason series. … C Nene is out for the remainder of the postseason after tearing his left adductor in Game 4. … The team that led at the half had won every game in the series until Game 5.

Spurs: Coach Gregg Popovich opted to start Mills after starting rookie Dejounte Murray in the previous two games in place of Parker. . Ginobili has 314 3-pointers in his postseason career, which is third in league history behind Ray Allen (385) and Reggie Miller (320).

MY BAD

Popovich screamed at Gasol after the veteran center failed to set a screen for Mills on the final play in regulation. The miscue helped contribute to the Spurs failing to take a shot at the close of regulation, forcing overtime.

“I think I made a wrong read,” Gasol said. “It was tough because when they put a small on you, you have a tendency to go in. I saw a switch, but I should have stayed up because (Patrick) Beverley went with LaMarcus and we could have played off that. I made a bad, bad read on that play.”

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