MIAMI – LeBron James will enter the weekend still in search of his first NBA Finals victory against the San Antonio Spurs. A triple-double wasn't enough.
Tim Duncan shook off a shaky start to pace the Spurs with 20 points, and Tony Parker iced the Finals opener with an incredible runner off the window with 5.2 seconds – narrowly beating the 24-second shot clock while stumbling to the ground – to lift San Antonio past the Miami Heat, 92-88, on Thursday night at American Airlines Arena.
Danny Green delivered a big blow, a 3-pointer with 2:13 left to give the Spurs a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Heat cut the deficit to a basket twice, the last on two James free throws with 31.3 seconds left.
That set up Parker's heroics in what appeared to be a doomed possession.
"He had LeBron on him," said Manu Ginobili, shaking his head.
"We were very fortunate," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Parker finished with 21 points and six assists. James had 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he thought it was a "26-second possession."
Parker timed it differently.
"It felt forever, too," Parker said. "It was a crazy play. I thought I lost the ball three or four times. And it didn't work out like I wanted it to. At the end I was just trying to get a shot up. It felt good when it left my hand. I was happy it went in."
Chris Bosh missed a big opportunity with the Heat trailing 90-86 with 1:02 remaining when his open 3-point attempt misfired.
"You know what, we'll take that shot," Spoelstra said. "He's been making those. It's an open shot in the fourth quarter. It didn't come down to that. There were more plays going down the stretch. Turnovers, random possessions where we didn't get to where we wanted to like that. We didn't get the shots that we wanted to."
The Spurs, who trailed by as many as nine points in the game, finally got the lead back on a Kawhi Leonard lay-in with 6:58 remaining to go ahead 79-78. It was San Antonio's first lead since 19-18 with 3:02 in the first quarter. Following a Leonard steal of a James pass, Parker put the Spurs up 81-78 with a lay-in with six minutes left. The nervous Heat followed with a timeout.
The Spurs entered Game 1 of the Finals coming off a week of rest after sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals. Duncan immediately smiled at the mention of all the time off coming his way after Game 4. On the flip side, the Heat had only two days off between eliminating the Indiana Pacers in a deciding Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals and Thursday.
Was more or less rest better?
It didn't seem to make a difference either way in the first quarter as the Heat finished the frame ahead 24-23. The second quarter was also close as Miami went into halftime with a 52-49 lead after Duncan nailed a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer.
Wade and James had 13 and 10 points, respectively, in the first half for Miami. The Heat were also aided by six 3-pointers, including a pair from Ray Allen. After going scoreless on five missed shots in the first quarter, Duncan scored 12 points on five of seven shots from the field and two free throws in the second. The Heat shot 50 percent in the first half while the Spurs hit on a 42.9 rate.
NBA Finals coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
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