SAN ANTONIO -- The Spurs fans aren't loved around these parts, but give them credit for this: they filled the AT&T Center on Tuesday night and they were loud.
The crowd noise crescendoed for the important moments. The ring ceremony. The unveiling of the championship banner. Each player walking to half court to collect their jewelry. Then the game started, and Tony Parker with a 3-pointer. Tim Duncan, with his never-aging running hook shot.
But with that 101-100 lead, the noise flattened to a nervous buzz as the Mavericks swung the ball around the floor and settled on a makeable Chandler Parsons 3-pointer. All Dallas needed was a shot to go through the hoop, and for that moment, everyone in the arena knew the Spurs were beatable.
As we know, Parsons missed the shot and that storyline wasn't to be. The Mavericks were quiet in the locker room but hardly downtrodden, not after game one of 82. They know they were a shot away from beating the Spurs, last year's world champions, and while no one took that as acceptable, no one viewed it too poorly, either.
The NBA season opener has come and gone. On to the next one.
Playing the machine-like Spurs to the final buzzer
Rick Carlisle: "I love a lot of things about the way we played. It was a great basketball game. You can't kick off the season with a much better game than this for the fans, there's just no way. Unfortunately, the slim margins of winning and losing is all anyone remembers. We get one more stop or one more basket and we're all in here singing a different tune. That's the world we live in in the Western Conference."
Carlisle: "We just got to be better [on defense], simple as that. Once again, they got us a lot late in the shot clock, and we just got to keep working. I like an awful lot of the things that we did do, we did a lot of things well, but winning in losing in the West is going to be very slim margins."
Parsons: "They're NBA champions for a reason. We've got to clean up some things, be smarter defensively and keep moving the ball offensively."
Nowitzki: "Parker going 4-for-4 [from three] against us is tough. He's supposedly not the greatest shooter of the bunch but he always makes his 3-pointers against us. They have some great shooters. ... We didn't guard the 3-point line as much as we wanted to, but it was still a close one.
Harris: "I think we did okay for our first game. Obviously there's things we can do better. We're playing a team with a high basketball IQ who plays at an extremely high level. We'll get better."
Nowitzki: "I thought the third quarter was a killer overall. I thought we lost our composure a little bit, with letting the referees get to us a little bit instead of working through it."
Nowitzki: "I like the way we battled back. We were down eight or nine in the fourth, and we still battled back."
Not the Chandler Parsons debut he had planned for
Parsons: "Looking back, I may need to make an extra pass to Monta, but I wasn't sure how much time was on the clock. I'll take that any day at the end of the game. I got to step up and knock it down next time.
Carlisle: "He's going to be fine. I like an awful lot of the things that he did do. It's one game and he'll bounce back on Thursday.
Parsons: "It was just one of those games, man. It sucks to play like that in the first game but you know, it's only one of 82 games. It's going to take some time getting used to playing everything and it's just one of those nights I couldn't get anything to fall. I got to be better."
Dirk: "I thought he had a couple of in-and-outs. This is not a one-game season, it's a 82-game season, so he's got to be able to get used to some of his new teammates and a new style of play and new playcalling. He'll be okay. He's a good player and very versatile. I thought he had a couple of good looks and a couple of them rimmed out and that's unfortunate.
Parsons: "I took good shots. I took a couple of chippies at the rim. I missed some wide open threes. I've got to take those every game. I don't see myself missing those a lot."
Parsons (on whether this will bother him for a couple nights): "Yeah, for sure. I never like playing inefficient and I hate losing. It definitely stings and you want to play well, especially on a new team, and you want to win. I got to play better. It's one out of 82 games so there will be plenty of opportunities."
Carlisle on Tyson Chandler's fourth foul in the third: "You know, I haven't looked at the film yet, I can't tell you a direct blow-by-blow on everything. But he's important and we need to work to keep him out of foul trouble."
Carlisle on Greg Smith being the first player off the bench: "They had Duncan in and I just wanted to give Tyson a quick blow for a short stint. He was in there when Duncan was in there and I couldn't have Chandler in. That's one of the capacities with which he'll be played, and we got a roster that's deep with guys who have specific abilities and responsibilities and we'll have to go deep.
Jameer Nelson on the starters meshing: "We're getting there. We're not where we want to be right now obviously, we've got to work on a lot of things, but we got to continue to get better as a group and as a whole, not just the starters. It's one of those things, it's one game and we learn from it and prepare for the next one."
Nelson on the importance of this game: "For me, these past two games, this is probably the biggest game I've been in. TV game, playing against the defending champs."