SAN ANTONIO — Midway through the first quarter after missing two jumpers, Tim Duncan threw the ball up yet again, then held his arms wide.
This time, would the shot fall?
It did. And much later the Spurs' big man hit an even bigger one. Duncan's first 3 of the season with just ticks left sent his team into double overtime against the revenge-minded Phoenix Suns.
Then it was Manu Ginobili's turn, and his layup with 1.8 seconds left pushed the defending champions past the Suns 117-115 Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Now the teams have two days to rest from their marathon best-of-seven Western Conference opener before meeting for Game 2 on Tuesday night.
"I got a wide-open shot. Wound it up. Threw it up there and hoped for the best," said a clearly tired Duncan, who had 40 points and 15 rebounds.
This year's rematch of what many dubbed last year's real finals — a tense and testy second-round series between the teams that the Spurs won in six games on their way to the title — got off to a wild start and more than met expectations.
"It feels like a finals game," Duncan said. "It's the first game of the first series, and we're going to have to muster energy back up."
Early on, Game 1 did not look like it would turn into a thriller. The Suns controlled play for the first three quarters, leading by as many as 16 points despite early foul trouble for Shaquille O'Neal. The Suns held a six-point lead with a quarter left in regulation.
"I didn't know what was going to happen, honestly," Duncan said. "Manu turned the corner, Shaq just totally leaves me and stayed with Manu."
In the second overtime, Shaq's dunk tied it at 112 with 1:33 to play. Ginobili's layup put the Spurs ahead.
Nash missed a key 3 with less than a minute to play. After risky, cross-court inbounds pass to the Spurs' Brent Barry, he was fouled. Barry made one of two free throws.
With 15 seconds left, the Suns went to sharp shooter Nash. Nearly falling out of bounds in the corner, he hit a 3 that made it 115-all.
Then Ginobili drove the lane against Raja Bell and got to the hoop, as he often does, almost at will, and his layup fell.
"What I knew, before taking it to the rim, is that Shaq and Amare (Stoudemire) were not there," Ginobili said. "So, I knew if I had the opportunity to go get in there, get some legs into the shot, I had an opportunity to finish."
Tony Parker added 26 points for the Spurs and Ginobili had 24.
"We had a lot of opportunities to win," O'Neal said. "You can't make mistakes against a team like that especially here in this building."