SAN ANTONIO, June 9 (Ticker) -- Manu Ginobili helped the San Antonio Spurs shake off the rust and leave the defending world champions in the dust.

Ginobili scored 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to complement a huge game by Tim Duncan as the Spurs got the jump in the NBA Finals with a methodical 84-69 victory over the sputtering Detroit Pistons.

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Having been idle for a week, the Spurs looked weak. However, they regrouped behind their three D's - defense, depth and Duncan, who had 24 points and 17 rebounds. And San Antonio managed to pull away in the fourth quarter, which is usually when the Pistons go to work.

Leading the charge was Ginobili, who is making a career of winning. The Argentine All-Star, already with a championship ring and an Olympic gold medal, got to work on his second NBA title by taking over in the final period. He scored eight points in a decisive 12-2 surge that gave the Spurs a 67-55 lead, then throttled a push by the Pistons with a swooping dunk, 3-pointer and running hook for an 81-67 advantage with less than two minutes to go.

"When I started feeling that everything was going so good for me and I was being able to finish or hit a three - the one I got in the fourth quarter - I just felt I was great, couldn't feel better," said Ginobili, who made 9-of-10 shots in the second half.

"Unbelievable. He was great," Duncan said. "We got a little stagnant there because he was amazing. We just stood around and kind of looked at him and he made big shots."

The matchup of the last two champions appeared to be turning into a duel between the last two Finals MVPs in Duncan and Chauncey Billups, who scored 25 points. However, Duncan eventually got some help, while Billups was left to go it alone.

Rasheed Wallace scored just six points, all in the first eight minutes. Richard Hamilton scored 14 points but also missed 14 shots as he was hounded by Spurs defensive demon Bruce Bowen. Reserve Antonio McDyess had two points on 1-of-8 shooting.

"We don't have that kind of personnel to go 1-on-1 and break people down and get baskets all night," Billups said. "I thought we reverted to that a little bit."

Duncan kept the Spurs afloat in the first half with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Ginobili had just four points and three turnovers before halftime but began to come alive with seven points in the third quarter, when San Antonio regained the lead for good.

"I was very upset at halftime and I tried to calm down, play at a little slower pace and things started to get better," Ginobili said.

"Frustration isn't part of (Ginobili's) personality. He just goes," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Tony Parker scored 15 points and Nazr Mohammed added 10 for the Spurs, who livened up what had been a plodding game with a spirited fourth quarter. As they did during the season, they pounded the Pistons on the boards, 49-35.

"I don't think we - other than the first seven, eight minutes - matched their energy," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "Their effort was phenomenal the whole game."

"We boarded well, so we put ourselves in a position where we could win a basketball game," Popovich said. "But offensively, it was Manu Ginobili. He was something else."

Game 2 is here Sunday.

The Pistons were within two points early in the fourth quarter when Ginobili crashed into Ben Wallace, who was called for a block - and a technical foul for arguing. Ginobili turned into a whirling dervish thereafter with three driving layups, including a three-point play where the lefthander came across the lane, took a bump from Hamilton and made a righthanded shot.

"Manu got mad after that and didn't stop penetrating," Parker said. "He kept attacking."

"They were switching and collapsing a lot in the paint, so I was always going against two or even three guys," Ginobili said. "So I know I'm going to expect that, so I don't care."

Consecutive hoops by Duncan helped build the lead to 17 points before the Pistons rallied with a three-guard lineup, scoring 10 straight points to close to 74-67 with 3:20 to go. Ginobili re-emerged with a personal 8-0 run to seal matters.

"No doubt that my confidence has been built up a lot," said Ginobili, a three-year veteran who made the All-Star team for the first time this season. "Now I know that even if I don't play well in the beginning, I'm going to be on the court. And probably in the fourth quarter, I'm going to have the ball in my hands."

"He got some trick shots in his book so that's why I say you got to keep him out of the paint," said Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, whose reputation as a stopper took a serious hit.

The league's two best defensive teams were executing "Operation Shutdown," but the coaches' knowledge of each other's schemes also made the basket seem smaller, and the shooting wasn't great, either. There were a handful of missed layups and airballs, including one on a free throw by Ben Wallace.

All that nearly led to a dubious entry in the record book. The 155 combined points approached the all-time Finals low of 145 by Syracuse and Fort Wayne in 1955 - the first season of the shot clock.

Early on, not even the searing humidity outside the SBC Center could heat up the Spurs, who clearly showed the effects of seven days off. In the first seven minutes, they had four points and four turnovers while going scoreless for more than three minutes - twice. That helped the Pistons open a 17-4 lead and quieted the crowd.

"I think I had to shake that off a little bit there and I think I was as big of a culprit as anyone," said Duncan, who missed a dunk.

"Maybe sitting around before the game, maybe the hype, maybe everybody was nervous or maybe they were rusty from the layoff," Popovich said. "I don't know. I don't care, I don't think about things like that."

Popovich went deep into his bench, calling on Devin Brown and Glenn Robinson, neither of whom played in the conference finals. Duncan's solid play and a flurry of fouls on the Pistons helped the Spurs withstand 11 points by Billups in the second quarter and close to 37-35 at halftime.