AT&T CENTER--Surveying the court ahead, catching a glimpse of Tim Duncan running side-by-side with Chris Johnson towards the rim, Manu Ginobili instantly started calculating steps and angles in his head. The equation solved as quickly as it appeared, Ginobili threaded a full court pass with just the proper amount of spin to reach its destination.
A transition layup, a foul, and a highlight. It was the perfect blend of art and science that Ginobili specializes in tiptoeing; the kind that borders on magic. A magic not so coincidentally absent from the AT&T Center over the past month.
"It's a huge difference for us, he changes the game for us," Duncan said of Ginobili. "He's done it for years. To have him back out there and to have another x-factor is huge for us."
It has been a struggle for the San Antonio Spurs, literally limping to the finish line nursing a myriad of injuries. Ginobili's hamstring, Gary Neal's legs, Boris Diaw's back, Tony Parker's everything. And yet, for a brief stretch in the first half on the last night of the regular season against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Spurs caught a reminder of everything they could be.
With 6:14 remaining in the second quarter Ginobili checked in for Danny Green, reuniting the Big Three with second-year sensation Kawhi Leonard in a lineup the Spurs figure to lean on heavily during the playoffs.