PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference semifinals; Spurs lead 2-0.
With Ginobili continuing to provide a spark off the bench, the San Antonio Spurs can take a commanding lead in their Western Conference semifinal series against Allen and the SuperSonics.
Allen shook off a sprained ankle that knocked him out of the series opener to score 25 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Spurs beat the Sonics 108-91 on Tuesday.
Allen showed no ill effects from the injury, making 10-of-10 at the foul line to up his postseason free-throw streak to 43. He was hurt on a drive to the basket in the second quarter of Game 1 on Sunday night and didn’t return.
Ginobili’s hard-nosed play has kept teams off-balance by changing the game’s tempo. San Antonio improved to 6-0 in the playoffs with Ginobili coming off the bench.
Using his usual array of layups and long jumpers, Ginobili sparked the offense when he stepped on the court, scoring 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He also contributed on defense, blocking Allen twice on one possession, even though scorers only credited him with one.
The Spurs’ playoff win streak began following a home loss to the Denver Nuggets in their postseason opener. Coach Gregg Popovich made a major change to the team’s lineup, starting Brent Barry and using Ginobili as a sub.
“It was a pretty good move,” said Seattle coach Nate McMillan. “Manu is capable of creating his own offense and when Tim (Duncan) is sitting it gives (Ginobili) an opportunity to play with the ball. He provides scoring with that second unit and you get more balance with him coming off the bench.”
Duncan made three of San Antonio’s first four shots, but things were sluggish until Ginobili came in. He made two 3-pointers and a layup, then set up Tony Parker for another, and San Antonio went up 20-8. The lead grew to 42-24 with 5:19 left in first half.
Ginobili has been the team’s second-leading scorer in the playoffs, averaging 21.7 points.
“I don’t really know what he does,” Duncan said of Ginobili. “He just kind of puts his head down and goes and we pray for the best.”
Duncan was his usual steady self with 25 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
San Antonio is wary of another second-round letdown. The Spurs led the Los Angeles Lakers 2-0 last year, but didn’t win again.
“We have to stay humble,” Ginobili said. “We’ve got a lot of room to improve. We really want to do it. We want to become, as soon as possible, the best team that we can be.”
The Sonics are 0-4 in seven-game series when going down 0-2, but remain confident.
“By no means is this team coming apart,” Allen said. “We’ve been one unit all year long and that is why we are here. This team has always handled losing well and has always responded. We just have to go home now and give our fans a show.”
Allen missed five of his first seven shots and Rashard Lewis started 0-for-6. Lewis later made five straight and Allen scored 12 points in the third quarter, but by then it was too late.
Game 4 is Sunday in Seattle.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Spurs - 2nd seed; beat Denver Nuggets 4-1, first round. SuperSonics - 3rd seed; beat Sacramento Kings 4-1, first round.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 22.4 ppg and 10.6 rpg; Parker, 5.6 apg. SuperSonics - Allen, 27.9 ppg; James, 8.0 rpg; Antonio Daniels, 4.7 apg.