SAN ANTONIO --- Tim Duncan saved the San Antonio Spurs with his first 3-pointer of the season at the end of overtime, and Manu Ginobili hit a layup at the end of the second extra period to send the defending champions past the Phoenix Suns, 117-115, on Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round series.
The third-seeded Spurs celebrated almost as jubilantly as if they'd won the finals yet again after beating the sixth-seeded Suns, their postseason nemesis. The teams will meet again in San Antonio on Tuesday night before the best-of-seven series shifts to Arizona.
This first-round series, which would have been fitting as a Western Conference finals, was the most anticipated. So far at least, it has more than delivered.
Duncan finished with 40 points and 15 rebounds.
"I guess they're not going to go easy," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Michael Finley sent the Spurs to overtime with a last-second 3 from the wing, tying the game at 93.
The Suns had controlled play for the first three quarters, leading by as many as 16 points despite early foul trouble for Shaquille O'Neal. The Suns had a six-point lead with a quarter left in regulation.
The Spurs took their first lead of the game late in the fourth quarter, but they were down 93-90 with 1:10 to go after Leandro Barbosa's fast-break layup.
With 15 seconds on the clock, Finley tied it at 93 for the Spurs.
Two-time MVP Duncan stole the show in the first overtime. With his team down 104-101, Duncan found himself all alone at the 3-point line. After a slight hesitation, he fired the ball and made it with 3 seconds to play.
"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 made it 114-112 San Antonio.
Steve Nash missed a key 3 from the corner with less than a minute to play. After a long and risky inbounds pass that crossed the width of the court to the Spurs' Brent Barry, the Suns fouled, and Barry sank one of two from the line to make it 115-112 Spurs.
With 15 seconds on the clock, the Suns went to sharp shooter Nash, who fired another 3 from the corner, sinking it this time to tie the game at 115.