MIAMI -- There's really no other way to say it. The Old Big Three beat the Bold Beat Three.
It's too late to keep thinking the San Antonio Spurs are old, outdated and, of greatest substance, underdogs in the NBA Finals, their golden-oldie trio pushing them to a 92-88 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 on Thursday.
The AARP jokes can be shoved aside for a game, maybe longer, after Tony Parker banked in a can-you-believe-it leaner with 5.2 seconds left.He beat the shot clock by a millisecond after he pivoted under a flying, flailing LeBron James, having somehow continued his dribble a few seconds earlier after slipping and falling on the court at AmericanAirlines Arena.
BOX SCORE: San Antonio 92, Miami 88
“It was a crazy play. I thought I lost the ball about three or four times,” Parker said. “At the end I was just trying to get a shot up. It felt good when it left my hand and I was happy when it went in.”
James, who was assigned to guard Parker in the final few minutes, glumly laughed at the shot after the game.
“Tony Parker did everything wrong and did everything right in the same possession,” he said. “That was the longest 24 seconds that I've been a part of.”
Parker's play gave the Spurs a four-point lead. And a 13-2 record in the playoffs. And a 5-0 all-time mark in Finals Game 1s since drafting Tim Duncan.
Game 2 is Sunday in Miami. By then, more people might recognize what San Antonio accomplished.
Their four turnovers tied them for second-lowest in Finals history. They held Miami to 16 fourth-quarter points, clamping down on Dwyane Wade (scoreless in the fourth) and Chris Bosh (two points in the final 12 minutes).
And to think San Antonio hadn't played in nine days since sweeping Memphis.
“We felt that the Spurs were the best team in the West all season long,” Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game.
Now they've won seven in a row and they're three victories from being this season's best team, period.
Parker finished with 21 points and six assists, Duncan with 20 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Manu Ginobili, the Spurs' other familiar name, had 13 points.
Parker, Ginobili and Duncan have combined for 99 playoff victories, second in NBA history to the trio of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper (110).
Parker had another memorable shot earlier in the fourth quarter, scoring on a spin move around Norris Cole with six minutes to play, a precursor of what was to come. He also drilled a 20-footer over Mario Chalmers with 3:30 left.
But one of the Spurs' newer names was also a factor Thursday.
Danny Green's three-pointer provided an 88-81 lead with 2:13 to play, letting the Heat know that, uh, there were also younger players with talent on San Antonio. Green finished with 12 points, all of them from three-point range.
James was primarily single-covered by Kawhi Leonard and had 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists for Miami.
James got no help from Wade (17 points) after the third quarter. Nor was Bosh there for anything substantial, scoring 13 points on six-for-16 shooting after coming in with a four-game skid in which he failed to score in double figures.
The Heat led by nine in the second quarter and by three after three quarters but made only five of 18 shots (27.8%) in the fourth.
“We had our chances,” said James, who fell to 6-10 in Finals games in his career.
NBA Commissioner David Stern created some pregame hyperbole by saying this was probably the most anticipated Finals in “who knows, 30 years.”
Sadly for Stern, and Miami, these Finals might not last very long.