Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - San Antonio's NBA Finals win in June accelerated LeBron James' decision to return home.
The Spurs, however, still have his number.
Tim Duncan had 19 points and 10 rebounds as San Antonio edged the Cleveland Cavaliers 92-90 in a back-and-forth thriller on Wednesday night.
Manu Ginobili split a pair of free throws to stake the Spurs to a 92-90 lead with 9.1 seconds left before James lost the ball near midcourt.
Anderson Varejao rebounded Ginobili's miss and James dribbled behind his back as Ginobili lunged for the ball, but he lost it off his left hand as he attempted a crossover.
Ginobili then threw the ball into the air from the left corner of the 3-point line to bleed off the remaining time.
"I went behind the back and just lost it," James said. "That's how the ball rolls sometimes, not too upset about it."
Boris Diaw posted 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while the Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard added 12 points, 10 boards and four assists for the Spurs, who have won five of their last six games.
"They're going to be one hell of a team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "It's a new system, new bodies. It doesn't happen quickly. I'm glad we're playing them now. They're going to be a whole lot tougher later on in the year."
San Antonio beat the then James-led Miami Heat in five games to win the NBA title, winning each game by an average of 18 points.
James then left South Beach to return to Cleveland in free agency. It would've been tough for James to leave Miami had the Heat won a third straight NBA championship.
The Spurs are 2-1 against James in the NBA Finals. They swept James' Cavaliers in 2007 and lost to James' Heat in a seven-game thriller in 2013.
James tallied just four points on 2-of-7 shooting in the second half with four turnovers. He finished with 15 points, nine assists and six boards for Cleveland, which has dropped consecutive games on the heels of a four-game winning streak.
Varejao provided 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Kyrie Irving netted 20 points in defeat.
There were 18 lead changes in the game, with 15 of them coming in the second half and neither team led by more than five in the final 20-plus minutes.
Varejao's tip-in with 2:57 to go was the final lead change of the night, giving the Cavs an 86-85 advantage. Duncan banked in a hook shot off the right block and Tony Parker sunk two foul shots with 1:23 on the clock for an 89-86 Spurs discrepancy.
James drove in for a layup with 1:09 to play and Varejao blocked Diaw's layup attempt at the other end. Varejao received an inbounds pass along the right wing with 37.4 ticks remaining, but Leonard played a backcutting James beautifully as the ball went out of bounds off the four-time MVP's left hand as he leapt into the air.
Duncan fed Ginobili for a layup and Irving hit two foul shots to get the Cavs within 91-90 with 10.1 seconds left.
Earlier, Spurs went on a 6-0 spurt during the final minutes of the first and led 23-20 going into the second. San Antonio recorded nine assists on 10 made field goals, with Duncan scoring 11 points in the period.
A personal 8-0 spurt from Irving was capped by consecutive triples to give Cleveland a 47-36 spread late in the second, but the Spurs closed the half on an 8-0 swing of their own to get within 47-44 heading into the break.
Nine of the lead changes came in the third and San Antonio took a 72-69 margin into the final frame.
San Antonio netted 22 points off 18 Cleveland turnovers ... The Spurs shot 47.3 percent (35-of-74) from the field, while the Cavs shot 44.6 percent (37- of-83) from the floor.