MIAMI (Reuters) - Tony Parker weaved his way across court, slipped and stumbled and almost fumbled the ball, got to his feet and banked in a jump shot that sealed the Spurs’ win over Miami.
That remarkable scrambling play, with time ticking down and the shot clock on its last tick, was “the longest 24 seconds” of LeBron James’s career.
“It was tough. Tony did everything wrong and he did everything right in the same possession,” said the Heat’s James.
“He stumbled two or three times, he fell over but he got up and went under my arm. I got a great contest and he even double-pumped it and barely got it off.
“That was the longest 24 seconds that I have been part of.”
Parker’s basket was a dagger in Miami’s heart.
Trailing by just two and eagerly awaiting the ball, Miami would have had five seconds to tie or win the game had the Frenchman missed with his desperation jumper.
Instead it bounced once off the glass, once, twice off the rim, before falling through the basket to give the Spurs a 92-88 win in Game One of the NBA Finals.
“It felt forever. It was a crazy play,” said Parker.
“I thought I lost the ball three or four times and it didn’t work out like I wanted it to. At the end I was just trying to get a shot up. It felt good when it left my hand and I was happy it went in.”
While the game will be remembered for Parker’s improvisation and scrambling at the death, he also led the Spurs with 21 points on 9-for-19 shooting.
Miami put James on Parker in the fourth quarter as they sought to limit the damage done by the fleet-footed Frenchman.
“I knew he was coming. Obviously a lot of NBA teams, they put bigger guys on me. So I just have to keep playing my game and trust my team mates.
“The whole game they were trapping me, trapping pick‑and‑rolls. So I was just trying to be patient.
“I think that is the key for me in this series - to be patient and choose my moments when to be aggressive. In the fourth quarter I tried to be more aggressive, obviously, because it’s money time,” he said.
Editing by Peter Rutherford