San Antonio Spurs small forward Bruce Bowen was the man of the moment with his 3-pointer 36 seconds from time as the Spurs beat the short-handed Phoenix Suns 88-85 to go up 3-2 in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Spurs can close it out in Game 6 Friday night at San Antonio.
The Suns, without their all-NBA center Amare Stoudemire and his replacement Boris Diaw, and using largely a six-man rotation, nearly won a grind-it-out kind of game the Suns aren't supposed to be able to play.
They led by as many as 16 in the second quarter and were up 79-71 with 5:18 to play.
But Manu Ginobili, who had an awful start, scored 15 of his 26 points in the final quarter to rally the Spurs, sinking two free throws to put San Antonio ahead 86-83 with 10.5 seconds to go.
Steve Nash badly missed a 3-pointer against Tim Duncan's defense, then Michael Finley made two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to seal the win.
Stoudemire and Diaw were suspended for the game by the NBA for leaving the bench area following Robert Horry's flagrant foul on Nash with 18 seconds left in Game 4.
Horry got a two-game suspension. He also will miss Game 6.
Nets 83, Cavaliers 72
In Cleveland, Jason Kidd scored 20 points as New Jersey delayed an early summer holiday with an ugly victory over Cleveland to pull within 3-2 in their NBA playoffs series.
Doomed by an inability to execute down the stretch in this series, the
Nets built a 22-point lead in the third quarter and then hung on for dear
life to force a home Game 6 in their Eastern Conference semifinals on Friday.
New Jersey made one field goal and scored just six points in the fourth
quarter on 1-of-15 shooting from the field. The Nets were also only 4-of-10 from the free throw line in the final 12 minutes.
Cleveland, which blew a chance to close out the series on its home floor,
wasn't much better, shooting just 3-of-17 in the fourth.
The Cavaliers played the last 56 seconds without LeBron James, who injured himself tumbling over Cleveland's bench while scrambling for a loose ball with Kidd.
James led the Cavaliers with 20 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 16, but Larry Hughes gave Cleveland next to nothing, going 3-of-17 from the floor.