MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade had 17 points and LeBron James added 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to help the Miami Heat take a 72-69 lead over the San Antonio Spurs into the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.
Chris Bosh had 11 points four rebounds and three steals and Ray Allen hit three 3-pointers for the Heat, who are looking for their second straight championship.
Tim Duncan shook off an 0-for-5 start to get 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, and Tony Parker added 11 points and five assists for the Spurs, who are in the Finals for the first time since winning their fourth title in 2007.
Game 2 is Sunday night in Miami.
The much-hyped matchup of past vs. present was every bit the air-tight, back-and-forth affair most expected in the first 36 minutes. Each time Wade and the Heat appeared to be taking control in the first 36 minutes, Duncan and the Spurs clamped down on defense, got a quick bucket on the other end and halted the Miami burst.
Bosh's spinning layup gave the Heat a seven-point lead early in the third quarter, but the Spurs fired right back with a 6-0 surge to keep it close.
Everyone expected James to take charge right away in this series, just as he has for the last two years. But there was more skepticism surrounding Wade, the former Finals MVP whose game has been slowed by a balky knee for much of these playoffs.
After a quiet start, Wade asserted himself in the second quarter, showing plenty of spring in his step while barreling toward the rim like the Wade of old. He scored six straight points midway through the second quarter when James went to the bench, giving the Heat a 44-38 lead.
But the Spurs got a throwback performance of their own from the 37-year-old Duncan, who hit a 20-foot jumper just before the first half buzzer sounded to keep the game every bit as tight as this entire series is expected to be.
James bulled to the bucket in transition to score on a layup, then fed Norris Cole for Miami's sixth 3-pointer of the first half for a 38-29 lead before hitting the bench for the first time.
Bosh scored five points in the first quarter, but picked up his third foul in the second as Duncan started to assert himself in a beautiful first half of basketball for both teams. The Heat and Spurs combined for just eight turnovers and 32 assists.
The Spurs swept Memphis in the Western Conference finals to give banged up veterans Manu Ginobili, Parker and Duncan some much-needed recovery time while the Heat suffered through a rugged seven-game series against the Indiana Pacers.
The Spurs showed little rust in the early going, jumping out to a 9-2 lead in the first 2 minutes when Danny Green hit a corner 3-pointer to force a timeout from Miami.
One of the biggest keys for Miami in the series is going to be finding a way to contain Parker, the jitterbug point guard who has been at the top of his game in these playoffs. He got off to a fast start on Thursday night, even though the Heat through almost everything they had at him.
All five Heat starters, including James, found themselves squared up on Parker at some point in the first period.
These two proud franchises are so similar, yet so different.
The Heat have the glamorous superstars who are right at home on glitzy South Beach while the understated Spurs prefer the quieter life in San Antonio.
The Heat were bought and meticulously tailored like one of President Pat Riley's designer suits, while the Spurs were built the old fashioned way through drafting and development.
But both teams love to share the ball, shoot the corner 3-pointer and get out in transition for easy layups.
The last time the Spurs were here, they won their fourth title by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers and a young LeBron James in 2007. Now Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are on one last ride, one final push. And again, James stands in their way.