Spurs' Ginobili back in starting lineup for Game 5

Updated: May 17, 2006, 10:16 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich stuck with a small starting lineup for Game 5 against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, but there was one change -- Manu Ginobili was a starter again.

This was the third straight game Popovich experimented with a new starting five. The Spurs lost the two previous times, sending the defending champions into this one down 3-1 in the second-round series and facing elimination.

Ginobili came off the bench in Game 3, replaced by Brent Barry, in an attempt to get more scoring off the bench. It worked as Ginobili scored 24 and 26 points. Apparently, his production was so good that Popovich wanted it from the start.

The move certainly wasn't about getting bigger. For the second straight game, San Antonio went with a lineup featuring Tim Duncan and four players who are 6-foot-7 or shorter.

The other perimeter players were Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen and Michael Finley. Finley replaced Robert Horry in the lineup for Game 4.

Parker, playing on his 24th birthday, also was dealing with a strained groin sustained in Game 4. Popovich said before the game that Parker was feeling better. The injury could limit Parker's speed, one of his best assets, and make it tough for him to keep up with Dallas' speedy new point guard, Devin Harris.

"I'm concerned, obviously, because he's done it before this season," Popovich said. "If he does it again during the game, that would be a huge problem."

Popovich didn't talk about the new lineup before tipoff -- except to make wisecracks.

"We're going to start three bigs,"' he said, laughing. "Somebody told me we didn't get the offensive rebounds at the end of Game 3 and 4 because we didn't have big enough guys out there. That sounds good enough to me."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press