The Spurs’ troika of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili entered Game 1 of the NBA Finals with 98 postseason wins as a group, second most by a trio in league history — behind Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Michael Cooper, who won 110 together with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Make it 99 after a splendid fourth quarter highlighted by suffocating Spurs defense and clutch late plays from Duncan, Parker and Danny Green.
Parker scored 10 of his 21 in the fourth quarter, including two big shots in the final 3:30.
Duncan faked Chris Bosh and drew a foul with 1:08 left, hitting two free throws to put the Spurs up four.
A minute later, Parker — despite fumbling the ball and falling down — gathered himself, turned around and lofted a 16-foot bank shot just one-tenth of a second before the shot clock expired, extending the Spurs’ lead to four with 5.2 seconds left.
“I was trying to stay composed and get a shot off,” Parker said.
Duncan (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Parker (who also had six assists and no turnovers) got help from Kawhi Leonard, who delivered 10 points and 10 rebounds and played stout defense on LeBron James; Danny Green, whose 12 points included a big fourth-quarter three, and Ginobili, who scored 13.
“Great to get the first game under our belts,” Duncan said.
Most importantly, the Spurs held the Heat to 16 points in the fourth quarter on 5-for-18 shooting.
“We tried to pack the paint and make sure they take jump shots,” Parker said.
The Spurs set an NBA Finals record for fewest turnovers (four), including none in the fourth quarter.
What was behind it? “I have no clue,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We don’t do no-turnover drills. I don’t know what they are.”
Duncan joined A.C. Green and John Salley as the only players in NBA history to make Finals appearances in three separate decades. But the first quarter was a big irritation for the player nicknamed The Big Fundamental.
Defended effectively and primarily by Udonis Haslem in the first quarter, Duncan opened 0 for 5 and headed to the bench with two fouls and 1:43 left in the quarter. This was only Duncan’s second scoreless first quarter in 23 career Finals games.
Duncan didn’t score his first basket until 7:46 left in second quarter. That score seemed to jump-start him, wiping off the early rust.
Duncan scored 12 in the second quarter, including a jumper just before the halftime buzzer, that left the Spurs down 52-49.
None of Duncan’s first-half points came against Haslem, who sat the entire second quarter. Duncan did much of his damage against Andersen and Chris Bosh.
The Spurs had a number of defensive breakdowns in the first half, resulting in several open threes and easy baskets in transition.
But San Antonio tightened defensively in the second half. The Heat had 10 free-throw attempts in the first half but didn’t go to the line again until 5:47 remained in the game.
What’s more, after allowing nine fast-break points in the first half, the Spurs allowed none after intermission.
“We played an OK game,” Ginobili said. “We didn’t play great.”
But it was enough.