New Orleans, LA – Tony Parker drained a 3-pointer late and Tim Duncan netted a pair of free throws to secure the victory, as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the New Orleans Hornets, 99-95, in the season opener for both teams.
Parker, who finished with 23 points and six assists, buried a three with 49.6 seconds remaining to give San Antonio a 97-95 lead. Duncan powered the Spurs late in the fourth, scoring nine of San Antonio's final 12 points, including two from the line after Greivis Vasquez missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer.
Duncan netted a game-high 24 points and also pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked three shots for the Spurs, who were eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals last season.
Anthony Davis, the top overall draft pick in 2012, did not disappoint for the Hornets in his regular season debut. He led New Orleans with 21 points on 6- of-12 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds. However, fellow rookie teammate Austin Rivers struggled most of the night, shooting just 1-of-9, scoring seven points.
"I thought we played hard. I thought our desire was there, we stuck together," said Hornets coach Monty Williams. "We got down a little bit, but young guys do that. I thought we were pretty good; we just played against a better team tonight."
Al-Farouq Aminu contributed 17 points while Ryan Anderson, last year's Most Improved Player, added 11 points off the bench in the setback.
Davis got going early, scoring nine in the first to help give the Hornets the early advantage.
Vasquez was the motor behind the Hornets' offense throughout, helping the hosts to a 10-point lead with his 10th assist of the half on a dish to Davis, who nailed a jump shot to give the Hornets a 50-40 lead. The Spurs were able to cut the deficit to seven before half following Matt Bonner's 3-pointer with less than a second remaining.
The Spurs got a solid contribution from Kawhi Leonard in the third. Coming off a promising rookie campaign, Leonard poured in 11 of his 19 points while also coming away with four steals in the period. He finished with five steals for the game.
The Spurs grabbed the lead and led by as many as nine in the third, but the Hornets finished the quarter on a 7-2 run to tie the game back up at 71-71.
With 3:18 to play, the Hornets took an 89-87 advantage after Parker's shot was blocked by Aminu, who was rewarded at the other end with a fast break dunk.
However, Duncan carried the Spurs the rest of the way. After a pair of Davis free throws put New Orleans up by four, Duncan scored the Spurs' next seven to give them the lead back.
"We put in some plays for him but it was just his determination down the stretch that got us the win," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich of Duncan's play late. "If Timmy doesn't do what he does that's a lost for us."
Davis hit a pair of free throws with 1:08 remaining to give the Hornets a 95-94 lead, but they never led again following Parker's three.
The 2012-2013 campaign marks the Spurs' 40th season in San Antonio ... Manu Ginobili did not travel with the team after missing the last four preseason games due to back spasms ... Eric Gordon did not play for the Hornets as he continues to be bothered by a knee injury ... Vazquez finished with a game- high 13 assists ... San Antonio will start a three-game homestand on Thursday against Oklahoma City.