It was late in the third quarter of a tight game. A playoff game, Spurs and Lakers, just like old times.

The Spurs were in control, but not firmly. The Lakers were behind, but not disastrously.

For nearly three quarters, the Spurs’ lead stretched and contracted, stretched and contracted, and at some point Manu Ginobili began to grow wistful.

“It used to be my moment,” the Spurs’ guard said.

Sunday at the AT&T Center, with Game 1 of the Spurs’ Western Conference playoff series against a familiar rival still in the balance, it was Ginobili’s moment again.

With a flurry of eight points in 85 seconds to end the third quarter, Ginobili set the Spurs’ course toward 91-79 victory that served as the series’ opening salvo. By the time Ginobili’s three-shot flourish was complete — a layup and two 3-pointers — the Spurs had their largest lead (13 points) to take into the fourth.

“You always want to create some separation,” Ginobili said. “Sometimes it doesn’t happen. I just took a couple risks. The ball went in, and it helped us.”

Playing just his second game since straining his right hamstring March 29, the 35-year-old Ginobili led an energized and defensively refocused Spurs team with 18 points in 19 carefully rationed minutes.

Tim Duncan added 17 points and 10 rebounds but did not record a field goal in the second half, and Tony Parker shook off an 8-for-21 day for 18 points of his own.

Before the game, coach Gregg Popovich wrung his hands, concerned the unfocused and at times low-energy play that typified the Spurs’ 3-6 April would bleed into the playoffs.

“We’ve never been that discombobulated,” Popovich said.