NEW ORLEANS — Tony Parker quieted the New Orleans Arena crowd with a lead-changing 3-pointer with less than a minute to play Wednesday night and the Hornets were never able to regain the advantage in spite of a spirited comeback.
New Orleans fell to San Antonio 99-95 in the season opener as Parker finished with 23 points, including the 3-point dagger.
The Hornets had a chance to tie with 49.6 seconds to play. But New Orleans couldn’t get a quality look at the basket out of a timeout as Greivis Vasquez’s 3-point shot hit off the front of the rim.
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan grabbed the rebound and, after getting fouled, clinched the game with both free throws. Duncan’s 24 points and 11 rebounds led all players.
No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis led the Hornets (0-1) with 21 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes while Al-Farouq Aminu added 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the loss.
After leading at halftime, the Hornets found themselves down 64-55 two-thirds of the way through the third quarter. But the young Hornets battled back and went into the final period tied after rookie Austin Rivers hit two free throws.
New Orleans never trailed again by more than two points until the end and, in fact, owned a 91-87 lead with less than two minutes to play.
But San Antonio’s experience took over. Tim Duncan scored seven straight points and Parker hits the 3-pointer to turn the momentum.
The Hornets held San Antonio (1-0) to 47.5 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers. But the Spurs scored 15 points off 15 Hornets turnovers and hit two more key 3-pointers than did New Orleans in picking up the win.
Rivers had a tough night starting in place of Eric Gordon, New Orleans’ max-money shooting guard who is out indefinitely with a right knee injury. He went 1 of 9 and scored only seven points while turning the ball over three times and committing three fouls.