SAN ANTONIO—Manu Ginobili ran onto the floor as fans stood and screamed.
He went to the bench, and they chanted his name.
The sights and sounds of so many San Antonio spring nights were back Sunday — and the real party might be just a few days away.
Ginobili broke out of a slump in a big way with 24 points and 10 assists in his first start of the season, and the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat, 114-104, to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.
Danny Green went 6-of-10 from long range as part of his 24 points. He also set an NBA Finals record with 25 3-pointers for the series.
Tony Parker scored 26 points, Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Ginobili had his highest-scoring game of the season as the Spurs became the first team to shoot 60 percent in a Finals game in four years.
“He’s such a huge part of what we do and how far we’ve come,” Duncan said. “You can see it tonight in how we played and the results of the game. We’re always confident in him. … We know he has it in him. We hope he can bring it forward for one more win.”
Kawhi Leonard finished with 16 points, but the stage was set when Ginobili trotted out with Duncan, Parker and the rest of the starters in what could have been the last Finals home game for a trio that has meant so much to San Antonio.
One more victory, and the Spurs’ Big Three — not Miami’s — will be the one that rules the NBA.
And a big reason was Ginobili, just as he has been for so long — just not during what had been a miserable series for the former Sixth Man of the Year.
“I was angry, disappointed,” Ginobili said. “We are playing in the NBA Finals, we were 2-2, and I felt I still wasn’t really helping the team that much. And that was the frustrating part.”
On Sunday, it was all forgotten.
“He’s obviously very popular,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s been here a long time. He’s helped us have a lot of success over the years.”
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each scored 25 points for the Heat, which will host Game 6 on Tuesday night. Miami needs a victory to force the first Game 7 in the Finals since the Lakers beat the Celtics in 2010.
Miami’s Big Three formed a few weeks after that game, with predictions of multiple titles to follow. Now they’re a loss away from going just 1-for-3 in the Finals, while the Spurs could run their record to 5-for-5.
“This is the position we’re in, and the most important game is Game 6,” James said. “We can’t worry about a Game 7. We have to worry about Game 6.”
Duncan won his first title in 1999, and Parker and Ginobili were with him for three championships since. They have been the perfect partnership, keeping the Spurs in the hunt virtually every year while teams such as the Lakers, Mavericks and Suns have risen and fallen in the Western Conference during that time.
They remained unbeaten in Game 5s, including two previous victories when the series was tied at 2-2. Of the 27 times the Finals have been tied at 2-2, the Game 5 winner has won 20 of them.
Miami was the most recent loser, falling to Dallas in Game 5 in 2011 before being eliminated at home the next game.
“We’re going to see if we’re a better ballclub and if we’re better prepared for this moment,” Wade said.
San Antonio shot 42-of-70, right at 60 percent. The last team to make 60 percent of its shots in the Finals was Orlando, which hit 62.5 in Game 3 against the Lakers in 2009, according to STATS.
“They just absolutely outplayed us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “At times, they were just picking one guy out at a time and going at us mano-a-mano. That’s got to change.”
Ray Allen scored 21 points for the Heat as he watched Green shatter his Finals 3-point record. Allen made 22 3-pointers in six games in the 2008 Finals for Boston.
Chris Bosh scored 16 for Miami, Wade had 10 assists, and James had eight assists and six rebounds, but it was defense that let the Heat down in this one.
The Heat was within one with 3:05 to go in the third quarter before Green hit yet another 3-pointer, and Ginobili followed with the stretch that turned the game into the fourth consecutive blowout of the Finals.
The crafty left-hander plays with a flair developed on the courts of Argentina and perfected in Europe before coming to the NBA. He sees angles other players can’t and takes risks few others would, but his style has been the perfect fit alongside Duncan and Parker.
He converted a three-point play, tossed in a floater with his left hand as he drifted right, and found Tiago Splitter under the hoop with a pass to make it 85-74. He flipped in another runner with 2.9 seconds to go, sending the Spurs to the fourth with an 87-75 lead as fans chanted “Manu! Manu!” during the break between the third and fourth quarters.
Ginobili had been averaging just 7.5 points on 34.5 percent shooting in the series, making only three of his 16 3-point attempts. But Popovich made the Finals’ second lineup change in two games, after Miami inserted Mike Miller to start Game 4.
Ginobili didn’t make a start this season and hadn’t been playing like someone who belonged with the first five. But in the Spurs’ biggest game of the season, they remained confident he would break out, and they were right.