LOS ANGELES: Tony Parker scored 23 points as the San Antonio Spurs began their title defense with a 101-100 win over Dallas in one of three opening-night NBA contests on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
The Spurs, despite their superb record in ring ceremony games, needed every minute of the contest to hold off their Texas-state rivals, who gave them their most difficult challenge of last year’s playoffs.
The Spurs rolled to their fifth title in June by dismantling the LeBron James-led Miami Heat. But first they had to get past the Mavericks in an epic seven-game series in the Western Conference semi-finals.
“We moved the ball much better in the second half,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, who came off the bench to score 20 points. “The defense was great. Tony had a couple of big baskets it was a very close game. Anything could have happened.”
Tuesday’s three-game set to start the 2014-15 regular season also saw Anthony Davis fall one block shy of a triple-double as the New Orleans Pelicans pulled away from the Orlando Magic for a 101-84 home win.
Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers were taking on the Houston Rockets in the late contest.
San Antonio received their championship rings in a pre-game ceremony, which also included raising their fifth championship banner in franchise history. The Spurs are now 5-0 in games where they received their championship rings.
Parker scored the go ahead three-pointer with under a minute left. Ginobili also had six assists off the bench and Tim Duncan totalled 14 points and 13 rebounds for San Antonio.
Monta Ellis led Dallas with 26 points on 11-of-21 shooting and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points with six rebounds in the loss.
San Antonio returned almost everyone from last year’s team but they had to play the season-opener without NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who is sidelined by a right eye infection.
San Antonio has now won 10 straight regular-season games over the Mavericks, including eight straight at home.