Miami, FL – Tony Parker beat the Miami Heat and the shot clock Thursday to help the San Antonio Spurs steal Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
With the Spurs holding a two-point lead in the closing seconds, Parker dribbled into trouble and fell to his knees.
The former Finals MVP recovered just in time and rattled in a leaning 16- foot bank shot, and San Antonio escaped American Airlines Arena with a 92-88 victory to take over homecourt advantage.
The clutch basket, which was reviewed by the officials and left Parker's hand a fraction of a second before the shot clock expired, went through with 5.2 seconds remaining and capped a one-sided fourth quarter.
"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," recalled Parker. "At the end I was just trying to get a shot up. It felt good when it left my hand."
Parker scored 10 of his 21 points in the deciding frame while Tim Duncan added 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Spurs, who matched an NBA Finals record for fewest turnovers with four, won their seventh straight game and overcame LeBron James' 10th career postseason triple-double.
"In the fourth quarter I tried to be more aggressive, obviously, because it's money time," said Parker, whose team held a 23-16 advantage in fourth.
James finished with 18 points, 18 boards and 10 assists for the defending- champion Heat, who look to rebound in Game 2 Sunday night.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who both struggled in the first three series, chipped in 17 and 13 points, respectively, for Miami, but Wade was held scoreless in the fourth and Bosh shot just 6-of-16 from the field.
"We had a few of those in this season where we let ourselves down where we didn't have it in the fourth. It was one of those nights tonight," Wade admitted.
The difference in the opener was the Spurs putting in 21 second-chance points to Miami's eight, and, of course, Parker taking over down the stretch.
The Heat committed five of their nine turnovers in the fourth, with Mike Miller's bad pass resulting in Parker getting fouled in transition.
"We had some poor possessions," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "There were a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers."
Parker made two from the line with 7:47 remaining to give the Spurs their first lead, 77-76, since there was 3:02 remaining in the first quarter.
During an 8-2 run, Parker spun around Norris Cole for a layup and crossed over Mario Chalmers before rising for a 21-footer and an 85-79 Spurs lead with 3 1/2 minutes showing.
Two minutes later, Ray Allen was fouled by Danny Green shooting a 3-pointer and hit all three from the stripe to pull Miami within 88-86.
Duncan and James both made two free throws around Bosh's missed 3-point try, with James' makes coming with 31.3 ticks to go.
Instead of fouling, the Heat played tight defense and James nearly forced Parker into a turnover with time winding down. Parker, though, stayed calm and banked in the clincher from the right side to silence the home crowd and keep the Spurs streaking.
San Antonio swept the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals and had nine full days to prepare for their first Finals appearance since 2007.
That year, the Spurs swept James' Cleveland Cavaliers in four lopsided games, though 11 of the 15 current players on the Spurs roster did not play in that series.
Despite the plethora of new blood and seemingly too much rest, the Spurs did not looked rusty, as they overcame a turnover on the game's first possession and rattled off the next nine points in swift succession.
Spoelstra, the eighth head coach in NBA history to bring a team to three straight finals, called a timeout and effectively quelled San Antonio's momentum.
It was a tactic Spoelstra used plenty of times in the East finals, which ended with the Heat surviving the pesky Indiana Pacers with a 23-point victory in Game 7 on Monday.
Miami responded to its coach's early timeout, scoring 11 of the next 13 points with James driving in for an easy two and a 13-11 Heat lead near the midway point of the opening quarter.
Duncan committed his second foul with 1:43 on the clock and was benched until there was 7:55 remaining in the half. By that time, the Heat built a 38-29 advantage thanks to 3-pointers by Allen, Miller and Cole in the early portion of the second quarter.
Duncan immediately revived the Spurs upon reentering, as the three-time Finals MVP scored inside, pulled down an offensive rebound that led to a Green 3-pointer and added two free throws on a 7-0 Spurs run.
Still, the Heat stayed in front with Wade scoring on the next three possessions and Cole finishing a tough layup in traffic for a 46-38 Heat cushion with 4 1/2 minutes to go before halftime.
Duncan barely beat the halftime buzzer with a 20-footer to keep the Spurs within striking distance, 52-49, and the visitors continued to play from behind throughout the third quarter.
Kawhi Leonard had two looks at potential go-ahead 3-pointers at the tail end of the frame and missed both from the right corner.
Allen responded with his third -- and last -- triple inside the final minute, and a pair of Manu Ginobili free throws made it a 72-69 game in favor of Miami with 12 minutes to play.
Ginobili was one of five Spurs to score in double figures, checking in with 13 points off the bench. Green had 12 and Leonard followed with 10 points and 10 boards in the victory.
The Heat shot 37 percent in the second half after making 50 percent of their shots in the first ... Miami won the battle on the glass, 46-37 ... This marks the fourth time in Finals history that at least four former Finals MVPs (James, Wade, Duncan and Parker) played in the same championship series ... Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are the first trio on a team other than the Celtics and Lakers to reach the Finals four times together ... The Spurs have never lost in four trips to the Finals and also took Game 1 in all of those series.