by Mike Monroe
A funny thing happened on Manu Ginobili’s way to the rim Saturday night in the final seconds of the third quarter of the Spurs’ 108-99 victory over the Suns at the AT&T Center. But nobody was laughing.
Smacked in the head by Suns guard Shannon Brown, Ginobili ended up in a heap on the court under the Spurs basket, players from both teams pushing and shoving, referees separating potential combatants.
Brown was charged with a flagrant foul, penalty-2, and ejected from the game.
Ginobili made both foul shots to trim Phoenix’s lead to a single point heading into the final period and thanked Suns forward Markieff Morris for awkwardly crashing into him after Brown’s hit.
“I kind of got pushed into him and it was lucky he was there,” said Ginobili, who scored 18 points after going scoreless in the Spurs’ easy win in Dallas on Friday night. “I had lost my balance and hitting him put me back upright. So I was actually very lucky.”
Ginobili never saw Brown’s forearm coming at his head because he had faked his way past the Suns defender at the top of the key and was headed to the basket for what he thought would be an easy layin.
“I was going to the rim and felt a boom to my head,” he said. “I imagined it was a flagrant but I saw it only on the replay afterwards.”
Ginobili’s teammates were divided on whether Brown’s play was malicious.
“I thought that was very dirty,” point guard Tony Parker said. “He didn’t need to do that. I think it was a big momentum change. Definitely everybody looked at each other and said, ‘You know what, let’s finish them.’?”
Stephen Jackson said he believed Brown was trying for a block from behind as Ginobili prepared to go up for his shot.
“I know Shannon Brown,” he said. “He doesn’t play like that. Obviously, if it was anybody else I probably would have knocked him out. It’s unfortunate he had to get kicked out for just trying to make an aggressive play. I swipe at the ball like that a lot and you never mean to do that on purpose.” Sharing a dunk:
Spurs captain Tim Duncan, seated on the Spurs’ bench in league-approved attire as he missed his third straight game with a sore left knee, couldn’t contain himself when teammate Boris Diaw drove the right baseline for a rare dunk in the fourth quarter.
Duncan leaped to his feet, a broad grin on his face, and greeted Diaw as he came to the bench when the Suns called a timeout after the play.
The unassuming Diaw, though, deflected the credit for just his second dunk of the season.
“Tiago (Splitter) was boxing out the help that was trying to come,” he said. “I said, ‘Well I have to dunk that one.’?”
Splitter claimed half the credit for the dunk.
“I saw him coming so I tried to hold all the defense behind me so he could dunk the ball,” he said. “I think half that dunk is mine.” Spurs Nation