The Spurs celebrated. The Mavericks hung their head.
The first game of the NBA season appeared over until officials reviewed a potential late foul, determining it occurred with 0.4 seconds remaining, and cleared the court for one final play.
It’s as if nobody wanted this superb game to end.
Don’t worry, there will be 1,228 more.
Dallas point guard Devin Harris intercepted Tim Duncan’s final inbound pass and sent a desperation heave off the backboard that wouldn’t have counted anyway, allowing the Spurs to hang on for a 101-100 victory Tuesday.
San Antonio, which has now won 10 straight regular-season games over the Mavericks, led by 10 midway through the fourth quarter. But the Mavericks – who took the Spurs to seven games in last season’s first round, the stiffest test they faced on the way to the championship – didn’t go quietly.
Harris accounted for 11 points – scoring six and assisting a Chandler Parsons 3-pointer and Dirk Nowitzki jumper – in the final 6:25. He singlehandedly out-produced the the Spurs, who scored just 10 points in that span.
San Antonio did just enough late with Tony Parker hitting a 3-pointer with 1:07 remaining for the game’s final points. He finished with a team-high 23 points, and Ginobili added 20 to counter Dallas’ guard combo of Monta Ellis (26 points) and Harris (17 points).
Of course, this rivalry has been defined for years by Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki, and the aging stars did their parts. Duncan had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Nowitzki scored 18 points on 11 shots.
For a while, everything looked like a highlight that warranted a standalone post here. I couldn’t decide whether I was overreacting to my first sight of meaningful NBA basketball in months or whether these teams were playing that spectacularly. The answer was probably somewhere between.
We have plenty of time to adjust to level of NBA regular-season games. Thanks to the Spurs, Mavericks and the referees to giving us an extended look tonight.