The Spurs eventually took a 121-119 win in overtime for the final NBA Global Games clash of 2019. A sold-out Arena Ciudad de México bore witness to San Antonio's fourth consecutive overtime game, an NBA record according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
"It's awful," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich when alerted to his team making history.
In the four-game stretch, the Spurs beat the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and the Suns and lost to only the Cleveland Cavaliers in double OT on Thursday. San Antonio's record now stands at 10-15.
"It's a credit to us all hanging in there and executing when we're all tired," said Patty Mills, who scored the game's go-ahead winner with 1.7 seconds left. Mills finished with 26 points off the bench to lead all scorers.
"It's good to leave a lasting memory for the fans of Mexico," Mills continued.
Late in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Spurs would be able to avoid setting the mark. LaMarcus Aldridge hit a free throw with 2:10 remaining, putting San Antonio ahead 105-98. Even as Phoenix mounted a late comeback, Aldridge's jumper made it 109-106 with 16.7 seconds left. But Phoenix's Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds on the clock to set up Gay's final unsuccessful attempt.
Over the course of NBA history, several teams have played in three consecutive overtime contests. The Dallas Mavericks were the last team to do this, in February 2016. The Mavs went 1-2 over that span. However, that distinction occurred over the course of 13 days, as the All-Star break came between the second and third games of the streak.
The Spurs, meanwhile, have played their four overtime games in the past 11 days.
San Antonio star DeMar DeRozan credited the crowd for boosting the team's energy down the stretch: "I didn't hear much boos [for either team]. They just appreciated good basketball. There was a lot of energy in there."
A chance for a fifth consecutive overtime game will come on Monday, when the Spurs face the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.