Spurs' Leonard expects to play in Game 6 despite ankle injury

The Spurs already were without Tony Parker, who will miss the rest of the playoffs after surgery to fix a ruptured left quadriceps tendon.

Manu Ginobili replaced Leonard in the lineup with 4:57 left to play, and the forward never returned to action.

However, the love and support didn't end at the box score.

Ryan Anderson, who played 36 minutes off the bench, walks off the court following overtime of Game 5 as San Antonio's Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili celebrate a three-point win.

The Houston Rockets said Nene was out for the rest of the season Monday, one day after the veteran backup center tore a muscle in his left thigh.

Still, he was glad to see his teammates step up and notch the win to bring the Spurs up 3-2 in the series, and he vowed to play when San Antonio aims to finish off the Rockets in Houston on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).

Mills provided the spark Popovich needed, scoring eight first quarter points, including two three-pointers, on the way to equalling his peersonal playoffs record with 20 points.

When Harden's potentially tying three was blocked by Manu Ginobili in the final seconds, it was appropriate.

"I know where his shot release is from, and he went by me, so I tried to bother him as much as I could and I saw that I found myself very close to the ball, so I went for it", he told reporters.

Each team stalled at the start of the extra period.

However, despite being in discomfort and ineffective the majority of the fourth quarter, Leonard said that he will be ready to play in Game 6 on Thursday. "He was big for us". He still led the Spurs with 22 points and 15 rebounds.

The victor of the series will play the Golden State Warriors for a place in the NBA Finals.

NEED TO KNOW: As has been the case all series, the Spurs will try to limit Houston's 3-pointers. The Spurs rarely looked the part of a well-oiled machine, but they put themselves in a position to win by slowing the pace of the game and grinding the Rockets down with their gritty play. The Spurs and the Rockets combined for a total of 81 three-point attempts, missing double the attempts (54) that they made (27).

The fourth quarter continued the back, and forth game, and regulation play proved not to be enough for this contest.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovic launched an almighty spray on big man Pau Gasol for the broken play as he got caught up in the lane with Clint Capela, leaving Mills with little chance. The small forward might not be 100 percent at tip off in the potential clincher, but his prediction is that he will take the floor in the team's most important game of the season. Leonard did all he could to keep San Antonio in the game, scoring six straight points and providing tough defense that allowed the Spurs to claw back to 75-71 on a dunk by Simmons at the 5:37 mark of the period.

  • Julie Sanders