Behind a late fourth-quarter run and heroics from Tony Parker, the San Antonio Spurs earned a tight victory over the Heat in Miami in Game One of the NBA Finals on Thursday, 92-88.
Parker hit nine of his 18 field-goal attempts to lead all scorers with 21 points, but his desperation shot to just beat the shot clock with under six seconds remaining sealed the win for the Spurs. It was a fantastic effort, as the point guard had his knee on the hardwood while being guarded by LeBron James, but still managed to convert an improbable shot that was under review by the officials for several minutes.
"Tony's shot is one of those things that happens sometimes," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "We got lucky today."
Some of the scores had nothing to do with luck. Minutes earlier, Parker executed a spin move to hit a difficult reverse lay up that kept the Spurs in front, 81-78. San Antonio outscored the Heat in the final quarter, 23-16, and received 10 points from Parker. Duncan finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, and beat the buzzer at halftime with a 20-foot outside shot. The big man also scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in the final eight minutes.
"The fourth quarter was the difference," said James, who finished with 18 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade and forward Chris Bosh combined for just two points in the fourth quarter. The duo, who have come under scrutiny following a hard-fought series with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals, combined for 30 points and shot a combined 13-for-31 from the field.
Fitness may have played a crucial factor in the outcome. San Antonio played after nine days rest, while Miami played at home in Game Seven against the Pacers on Monday.
"I thought we were a little fatigued honestly in the fourth quarter," Wade said. "Looking around, we looked like a team that came off a seven-game series."
The Heat still managed to get solid production from the bench, who scored 30 points. Miami also outrebounded San Antonio, 46-37.
While James finished with a triple-double, he was well defended by athletic forward Kawhi Leonard. The 21-year-old used his length to disrupt James's rhythm, and limited the regular-season MVP to just seven field goals on 16 attempts.
San Antonio did a solid job with ball possession. The Spurs turned the ball over just four times compared to the Heat's eight turnovers.
Game Two is on Sunday in Miami.