Even at 40 years old, "Grandpa" Ginobili still has some of that 'Manu Magic.'
On Saturday, Ginobili made his second game-winning shot this month, dropping in a driving layup with 3.1 seconds left to give the shorthanded San Antonio Spurs a 98-96 home victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Just eight days earlier, the ageless Argentine guard victimised the Boston Celtics, draining a three-pointer with five seconds remaining for a 105-102 home victory.
Not bad for a guy who has contemplated retirement after each of the last two seasons, receives scheduled rest days and is the NBA's second-oldest player behind Vince Carter.
"He's our grandpa," said Spurs guard Dejounte Murray, who was six years old when Ginobili made his NBA debut.
"Every time a team has to adjust without their main player, others have to step up, gain confidence and end up being better players, having to be more responsible offensively, have more possessions, make more decisions," Ginobili said.
The Spurs (20-10) have been without All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard for much of the season. Leonard returned last week from a quadriceps injury but is being worked back into the lineup by coach Gregg Popovich. Leonard was rested Saturday, forcing reserves such as Ginobili to step up.
But while Ginobili does not start, he often finishes. With the game tied, Ginobili began to run a pick-and-roll with LaMarcus Aldridge but exploded to the basket, beating Wesley Matthews.
"I tried to attack and draw fouls, make something happen," he said. "For a last play, it's better to be facing the clock and know when you can attack. So I tried to use the most seconds possible, tried to take the last shot and just went hard."
The Spurs have had injury issues all season. In addition to Leonard, 'French Flash' Tony Parker missed over a month recovering from a torn quadriceps tendon and also was rested Saturday. Several other Spurs also have been sidelined.
"We don't know who's going to play in which situation," Ginobili said. "We don't have a rotation. We don't have Kawhi. We have him, but we don't. We have Tony, but we don't. Danny (Green), the same. Kyle (Anderson) was playing great and now he's out for a couple weeks so we can't find the identity we need."
Ginobili is playing nearly 21 minutes per game, more than in each of his last two seasons. The four-time NBA champion is averaging 8.2 points and 2.4 assists, displaying his customary fearlessness while providing leadership and guidance for his younger teammates.
"He's a beast, man," the 21-year-old Murray said. "Y'all (have) seen what he did for this organisation. He's still around giving his wisdom to all the new guys."
Against the Celtics, Ginobili also worked a pick-and-roll with Aldridge before launching a rainbow over the taller but slower Al Horford for the win.
"When it's crunch time I think he's gonna make everything," Murray said. "That's just Manu. Manu gonna Manu."
- Reporting by: Chris Bernucca