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Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs were as clutch as the culture gets during overtime win

The San Antonio Spurs have been in the top two of the Western Conference for several years in a row, but what has frustrated head coach Gregg Popovich the most about his team this season are their lapses in focus and utter reliance on their multi-dimensional star Kawhi Leonard.

The bench unit had the chance to prove him wrong on Tuesday night’s pivotal Game 5 against the Houston Rockets, showing up in major ways with the two-time Defensive Player of the Year on the sidelines.

ESPN Stats & Info

ESPN Stats & Info

The Klaw had been carrying the bulk of the clutch-time scoring in the postseason, tallying 25 points while the rest of the team only mustered 17 down the stretch of games.

It wasn’t Leonard, or Tony Parker, or LaMarcus Aldridge, or even Pau Gasol giving the Spurs a much-needed boost against a potent deep-shooting Rockets squad, but rather the unusual suspects in Manu Ginobili, whose lefty layup sent the game to overtime.

It was Jonathon Simmons getting one of the four turnovers James Harden got down the stretch on an offensive foul.

It was Simmons again in overtime, making a pair of free-throws — before the unsung hero, Danny Green, nailed a clutch three-pointer, an and-one, and a split of free-throws to give the Spurs a three-point lead with 15 seconds to go in the game.

Ginobili made yet another appearance in the winding seconds of the game, coming from behind Harden and rejecting his last-second three-point prayer to take a 3-2 lead in the series.

Game 5’s win was one of the most Spur-like victories in Popovich’s recent memory — going all-in on his culture and next-man-up mentality — letting his players depend on each other and their system, rather than in proven big-time playmakers like Leonard or Parker.

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