Manu Ginobili scored 30 points, including the go-ahead basket with 32 seconds left, and the Spurs beat the Grizzlies 104-101 Wednesday night.
Ginobili, who had nine points down the stretch, added seven assists and drew a late charge from Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay to preserve the Spurs' lead.
Gay's desperation shot just before the buzzer was off the mark as Memphis lost its season opener for the seventh straight year -- all of them at home.
"They executed and did what they were supposed to do," Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol said. "We didn't finish a couple of actions that would have been important for us to get the lead down the stretch."
San Antonio won the second game of a season-opening back-to-back after beating Portland on Tuesday. For Ginobili, who scored 16 against the Trail Blazers, an offseason conditioning program where he did little during August and started training in September is providing early dividends.
"I feel great right now. It seems to be paying off," Ginobili said. "I don't know what that means a few months from now, but right now I feel really fresh."
Gasol led Memphis with 22 points, while Damon Stoudamire had 18 and Gay finished with 16. Mike Miller had 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the Grizzlies' first game under new coach Marc Iavaroni.
"I was proud of the effort we gave," Iavaroni said. "I was pleased with the way we played, just not satisfied with the outcome."
The game was close throughout the first three quarters, with neither team leading by more than seven points. The Spurs leaned heavily on Duncan, Parker and Ginobili for their offense, while the Grizzlies were spreading their points with Gasol leading the way.
The teams were tied at 95 with 1:42 left after Duncan scored inside over Darko Milicic. Ginobili's drive with 32 seconds remaining gave San Antonio the lead for good, and he went 7-of-8 from the free throw line after the go-ahead basket.
"The difference in the game is that Manny willed it. He just willed it," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He went to the hole, took charge, made the free throws. He saved the day for us."
There were 16 lead changes and 17 ties. The teams were tied at 52 at halftime, with Ginobili scoring 18 points.
Duncan and Parker accounted for 17 of the Spurs' 23 first-quarter points. But Memphis shot well early while playing Iavaroni's running style. The Grizzlies finished with a 24-11 advantage in fast-break points.
The Spurs' long-range shooting erased a Memphis lead late in the half. San Antonio scored nine straight points on 3-pointers, one by Parker and a pair by Ginobili, who went 5-of-9 outside the arc.
The game remained close in the third, and Gasol's 3-pointer from the top of the key gave Memphis an 82-79 lead entering the fourth.
But despite holding on to the lead at the end, the champs were impressed with the challenge Memphis posed with its new running offense and the addition of players like Milicic, Casey Jacobsen and Juan Carlos Navarro.
"They gave us all we could handle," Popovich said. "They looked like a playoff team. ... And I'm not trying to blow smoke on them or anything. I really believe that. I thought they executed offensively better than we did."
- The Grizzlies have opened at home every year since moving from Vancouver in 2001.
- The lengthy opening night pregame production included a drum line, trampolinists, announcer Michael Buffer and enough pyrotechnics to cause a smoky opening few minutes of the game.
- Spurs rookie point guard Darius Washington got a lot of media attention before the game and a nice round of applause when he entered in the first quarter. Washington played collegiately at the University of Memphis.
- Even with his defensive reputation, the opening-night numbers for Spurs forward Bruce Bowen -- no points and one rebound against Portland -- were uncharacteristic. "I wanted to take a look at guys, and he was in and out and never got a rhythm," Popovich said, taking a bit of the blame. "Hell, he's like 45 years old. He knows what's going on. If he loses a step, let me know if that happens. I keep looking for it."