Miami’s LeBron James had a triple-double, but it was not enough as Tony Parker made shots when it counted, Tim Duncan was steady as usual, and Manu Ginobili was again disruptive as the San Antonio Spurs, a team that was well rested, won Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Miami 92-88 on Thursday.
James and Wade were right where Gregg Popovich wanted them, stuck on the bench, when Chris Andersen’s follow-up shot gave the Heat a 76-73 lead with nine minutes to play. The two stars had been stuck on the bench for three minutes during the up-and-down game, and then Popovich surprisingly called a time out, allowing James to come back in the game. The Heat scored one field goal the next 5:50 as the Spurs took an 85-79 lead and would not trail again en route to a first round upset sealed by Tony Parker’s final basket with 0.1 seconds on the shot clock.
Prior to that moment, the Heat had led for just over 30 minutes of action with no interruptions.
James missed a shot after coming back in the game, and then center Tiago Splitter backed him down at the other end and hit a 6-footer to pull the Spurs within 76-75.
Parker, who had kept the Spurs within five points almost the entire 30 minute stretch in which the Heat led, then took over by stealing the ball from Mike Miller on one end, and then drawing a foul on Norris Cole on the other end and hitting both free throws to finally give the Spurs the lead at 77-76.
Bosh hit a shot to give the Heat their last lead at 78-77.
Kawhi Leonard, who did an excellent job of containing James, then reached for an incredible layup and basket to make it 79-78 with 7:00 to go.
A minute later Leonard stole the ball from James and fed ahead to Parker, who drove to the hoop to make it 81-78.
Parker’s 21-footer made it 85-79 with 3:30 to play and it was the Heat who had to call timeout.
The Heat twice cut it to two points twice in the final 90 seconds, but in the closing seconds Parker came through one final time. The Heat double teamed him, he fell to the floor, but kept his dribble, then got up and rushed up a shot from 16-feet. James apparently brushed the shot, but pulling back to avoid the foul. The ball went through the hoop with five seconds to play, and video review seemed to confirm it left Parker’s finger tip with 0.1 on the clock to provide the final 92-88 margin and deny the Heat a chance for a final game winning shot such as James had to rescue them from the Pacers in Game 1 of the last playoff series.
The Spurs took the 1-0 lead on Miami’s home court, as Parker scored 21 points to 18 for James. Game 2 is Sunday in Miami.