San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) and Dallas Mavericks forward Caron Butler (4) scramble for the ball during the fourth quarter of a basketball game in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Wednesday, April 21, 2010, in Dallas. San Antonio won the game 102-88. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

Down But Not Out: Ginobili Overcomes Injury To Lead Spurs To A 94-90 Win

In a physical Game 3 between in-state rivals, Manu Ginobili returned in the fourth quarter from a bloody nose to spark the Spurs to the victory and a 2-1 lead in the series.

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Manu Ginobili's Broken Nose: A Fan's Prognosis

Manu Ginobili catches a Dirk Nowitzki elbow to his (rather large) nose during Friday's San Antonio Spurs win over the Dallas Mavericks and all one Spurs fan can do is lay the entire thing open like flayed bat at a creepy Argentinian barbecue (where bats are served). 

Who needs doctors and trainers and other "professionals" when you have fans with real life experience to guide us through the mystical world of a problematic proboscis?

At SB Nation's Spurs blog Pounding the Rock, reader/fan/internet physician Wangalusa (what did you expect, Dr. Smith?) opines not only on Manu's potential medical complications but of course, also weighs in on how much of the Spurs playoff hopes rest on Manu's big schnoz, bald spot, wide shoulders.

I feel qualified to make that judgment because, in a strange coincidence, I got my nose broken several years ago in....yep, Argentina.  The cosmic significance of this has only further solidified my conviction that Manu and I are long-lost brothers or at least second cousins or something, but it's also made me a little worried about what effect his injury might have on Ginobili's production at a time when he's been playing his best and we badly need him for the playoffs. 

I think it's not an exaggeration to say that this year the Spurs will go only as far as Ginobili will take them in the post-season.  It's his team this year, in a way it hasn't been in the past.

Our fan expert goes on to spell out the potential playing problems that Manu will face resulting from his busted face.

1. Swelling.  This one is probably most controllable given the off day and the availability of the Spurs' very competent medical staff, armed with ice and ibuprofen, to take care of it.  But when I got my face busted for me it was a week before I could see properly as the swelling actually blocked part of my vision, resulting in a condition similar in effect (though not cause) to binasal hemianopsia, and my nose isn't nearly as big as Manu's.  The swelling and bruising in my case was not limited to the nose itself, but also both eyes and cheeks.  I looked like a pituitary raccoon.

2. In the immortal words of Clubber Lang, "Pain."  Not only the throbbing agony of having your nose broken, but the chance that it could get hit again and start bleeding and swelling at an inopportune time (and if you think the Mavs aren't keenly aware of this fact, I've got some prime oceanfront property you might be interested in).  Does he go with the Rip Hamilton Phantom of the Opera look?  How will that affect his shooting?  Even masked, the prospect of playing NBA playoff basketball in what I remember as a very frail and sore condition would make me very squirrely.

3. (not) Breathing.  What we've got here, folks, is a classic case of a deviated septum, in which all the little bones and cartilage in there get smashed up and their resulting displacement, along with the aforementioned swelling, can put a serious crimp on one's ability to breathe properly.  This is a real concern, and I can only imagine what effect it might have on a finely tuned athlete like an NBA basketball player.  If you couldn't get the amount of oxygen you're used to into your lungs, do you think your performance at tasks requiring, oh, say, your maximum cardiovascular effort simultaneous with complex tests of your fine motor skills, would suffer?

Of course, we are talking about a guy who regularly defies the laws of basketball gravity to slither through the lane and finish with some of the most awkwardly beautiful lay-ups this side of Steve Nash.

Manu returned to the game after a brief nasal readjustment to drop 11 points, three rebounds and an assist in the final period of play. Said Tim Duncan of his long-time slasher mate, "I had no doubts he'd be back. He's got a very strong nose on him."

And we have no doubt he will be back for Game 4 on Sunday. No one can keep Manu's nose down.

Before and after pictures of Manu's nose via Manu's twitter:

Manu_nose_medium

Can you see the difference? It's subtle but there.

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In Progress: Mavericks - Spurs Series Heads To San Antonio

San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) - Manu Ginobili suffered a broken nose, but scored 11 of his 15 points in the last quarter, and the Spurs beat Dallas, 94-90, in a rough battle to take the lead after three games in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Tim Duncan poured in 25 points and Tony Parker added 23 for San Antonio, which also received 17 points from George Hill.

Ginobili, who was hurt in the third quarter after being elbowed by Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, returned and played with a bandage over his nose. He sank 7-of-8 foul shots and also had seven assists as the Spurs won despite missing all seven of their three-point shots. Ginobili is expected to have a CT scan on Saturday.

"He's a great player and has been a great player for a very long time," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "If Dirk had gotten hurt or Jason Kidd, people like that who are the ultimate competitors, they play unless they just can't do it. Manu is one of those."

The Texas tussle turned into a physical pounding between the teams, but the seventh-seeded Spurs won the battle to take the 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday night, again in San Antonio.

Nowitzki scored 35, but the Mavericks couldn't contain Parker and Ginobili in the final quarter. The duo combined for 20 points in the final 12 minutes.

Mavericks guard Caron Butler had two points in the first half, but wasn't inserted in the game over the final two quarters.

"We were just going with the group that was going good, we needed penetration," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.

Nowitzki's jumper gave the Mavericks an 81-80 edge with 3:03 remaining, but the Spurs scored the next eight. Parker ran off a personal 6-0 spurt to give the Spurs the lead for good. After Parker's first jumper in the stretch, Jose Barea was called for traveling. Duncan then found Parker for a left corner jumper.

Jason Terry's drive to the hoop was blocked by Antonio McDyess, and that resulted in Parker's long jumper from the left side for an 86-81 cushion with 51.6 seconds left.

Nowitzki missed a shot at the other end and Ginobili sank two free throws to end San Antonio's eight-point run. The Mavericks never made it a one- possession game after that juncture.

"He took the game over for a stretch there," Duncan said of Ginobili. "They made a run, they made some shots. They played zone for a little while and got us out of our stuff. We gave Manu the ball and he took it upon himself to kind of take over the game."

Ginobili suffered his injury 2:13 into the third quarter. Nowitzki drove to the hoop and Ginobili tried to reach in and steal the ball. Instead, Nowitzki's elbow caught Ginobili across the nose, which shifted and was then bleeding profusely from the inside.

"I had no doubts he'd be back. He's got a very strong nose on him," Duncan said. "I think it'd take him a second and he'd be right back."

It took only five minutes of game time for Ginobili to return, but by that time the Mavs were involved in a huge turnaround. The 19-2 spurt by the Mavericks moved them to a 68-59 advantage. J.J. Barea capped the burst with a driving layup with 3:08 left in the third. Dallas went to the fourth with a 70-66 edge.

"We were able to speed the game up and got some good looks in transition," Nowitzki said. "In a half-court set they really seem to take our options away."

The Spurs gave up the first four points of the game, but then scored the next 12 and held a 23-16 lead after the opening quarter. They were up 47-44 at the half.

The Spurs haven't beaten Dallas in a playoff series since 2003 in the conference finals. San Antonio beat New Jersey in the NBA Finals that year...Barea had 14 points, three less than Terry...The Spurs converted 16 Dallas turnovers into 21 points.

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