SAN ANTONIO -- Manu Ginobili celebrated his return to the starting lineup with a career playoff-best 39 points and Nazr Mohammed scored 9 of his 19 points during a 17-3 third-quarter run, sending the San Antonio Spurs past the Seattle SuperSonics, 103-90, last night and putting them within a victory of the Western Conference finals.
The Spurs never trailed. The only tie was 50-50 at halftime and it was smashed by the huge spurt that opened the second half.
''I don't know if it was pivotal, but it was important for our team," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
Ray Allen led Seattle with 19 points, but he was practically invisible in the first and third quarters -- the ones coach Nate McMillan called ''the most important quarters of our season" prior to tipoff.
Pestered by nemesis Bruce Bowen, Allen was scoreless in the opening period and his only point in the third was a free throw with 4.2 seconds left. He missed three foul shots that quarter after being 55 for 59 from the line in the postseason.
Sonics forward Rashard Lewis missed his second straight game because of a sprained left big toe. He may return tomorrow night for Game 6 in Seattle, when the Sonics will be trying to extend their season.
The good news for Seattle fans is that the home team has won every game this series. The bad news: Game 5 winners have won 103 of the 123 seven-game series that were tied 2-2.
Tim Duncan had 20 points and 14 rebounds for San Antonio, and Tony Parker was 4 for 13 for 11 points on his 23d birthday.
Starting for the first time since the playoff opener, Ginobili was 10 for 15 from the field and 15 for 17 from the line.