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Manu Ginobili is second player at least 40 years old to score 20 points off bench


SAN ANTONIO — Reserve point guard Patty Mills often teases about the “grandpa juice” Manu Ginobili brings to the team, and the 40-year-old veteran provided more fodder for the squad on Friday by pouring out some in the San Antonio Spurs103-89 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Even coach Gregg Popovich requested a shot.

“Whatever he’s drinking, I want some of it,” Popovich said. “I’m serious, there’s got to be a fountain of youth someplace.”

Ginobili joined Vince Carter in becoming just the second player at least 40 years old to score 20 points or more in a game off the bench since NBA starts have been recorded (1970-71), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Ginobili finished with 21 points, while Carter scored 24 points off the bench on Dec. 27, 2017, against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But Ginobili inflicted all his damage over just three quarters on a night in which Kawhi Leonard flashed strong signs of his return to dominance by notching four steals and three blocks for the first time since the 2016 playoffs.

“Grandpa juice, he’s got it, man,” said Bryn Forbes, who started in place of an injured Danny Green (groin). “It’s amazing what he can do. He’s done it this long, and you don’t see that much. He’s special. It makes you want to play a little harder when you see him doing that.”

Over a span of 2 minutes, 6 seconds in the third quarter, Ginobili nailed three consecutive 3-pointers, in addition to sandwiching in a driving reverse layup and a blocked shot. Ginobili racked up a total of 13 points over the last 3:18 of the quarter, finishing the game 7-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc to go with 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.

The performance prompted inquiries about what’s actually in the grandpa juice teammates keep joking about.

“I knew it was coming, I knew it was coming,” Ginobili said, laughing. “I was feeling really well today, very energetic. I had a 9-hour sleep, [which] doesn’t happen that often in a family with three kids. But the bottom line is it just happened. I made three 3’s in a row, and then it looked better after that.

“I felt those shots were going in, not a feeling that I’ve been having that often lately. So, when it does come, it feels great. At the same time, you feel like you are helping the team because we were kind of struggling. The game was close. We were right there. I helped us get a little lead, and that makes it even better.”

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