t hasn’t been the easiest start for 37-year-old Tim Duncan, who spent most of the opening month of his 17th season struggling to find a rhythm as his shooting percentage plunged below 40. But he picked a fine time to enjoy one of the greatest games of his career, exploding for 23 points and 21 rebounds to not only officially bust out of his slump, but torture former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer — now Atlanta’s head coach — in the process.

Duncan became the oldest player since at least 1985-86 to record a 20/20, beating Boston’s Robert Parish (1991) by 48 days. And that was only half the story. He capped his historic night by drilling the game-winning jumper with 0.4 seconds left to rescue the Spurs after they squandered a late seven-point lead. Nobody was less surprised by Duncan’s dominance than Budenholzer, who sat courtside for all 20 of Duncan’s previous 20/20s.

“I’ve seen that very play,” he said. “That’s a credit to them and their execution and to Timmy. He’s made that shot in a lot of games. Timmy’s a heck of a player, the greatest power forward ever. He did a heck of a job. I’m happy for him in a strange, pissed off kind of way.”

The Spurs improved to 15-3, but only by the skin of their teeth. It wasn’t a particularly-well played game, with the Hawks shooting just 43.8 percent while the Spurs kept them in it with 19 turnovers. But it was also extraordinarily close as neither team led by more than eight while battling through 37 ties and lead changes. The last came courtesy of the oldest player on the court, proving that reports of his apparent demise — including a few you might have read on this very blog — were greatly exaggerated.