Fatigue from a West Coast trip appeared to play a role in a rare home loss for the San Antonio Spurs this week.
Now having spent some time back in town, the Spurs will seek a better performance Saturday night when they welcome the Denver Nuggets, who were victorious in their most recent visit to the AT&T Center.
San Antonio (7-2) was poised to add to its strong start to the season Thursday against New York, taking a 12-point lead well into the fourth quarter after Tiago Splitter scored all 13 of his points in a 2:38 span. The Spurs, though, gave up 27 points in the final seven-plus minutes en route to a 104-100 loss.
They missed seven of their final nine shots and committed turnovers on back-to-back possessions in the final two minutes. The game came two nights after an 84-82 win over the Los Angeles Lakers capped a four-game road swing.
"I think we ran out of gas," coach Gregg Popovich said. "Guys busted their butts but they didn't have enough in the tank after that road trip. We definitely got tired."
The loss was only the third in 25 home games for San Antonio, including the playoffs. The Spurs' 67-11 home record in the regular season since the start of 2010-11 is easily the NBA's best.
One of those losses came in the Nuggets' most recent visit, 99-94 on March 4. Ty Lawson had team highs of 22 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds as Denver beat the Spurs for the second time in nine meetings.
Lawson was held scoreless for the second time in 109 career starts in a 98-93 home loss to Miami on Thursday. He had a potential go-ahead shot waived off due to an offensive foul midway through the fourth quarter after Denver (4-5) had trailed by 19 earlier in the second half.
"We just have to move on to the next game," said guard Andre Miller, who had a season-high 19 points. "It was a game that we definitely needed to win before we go out on this three-game road trip."
The trip includes visits to Memphis and Minnesota next week for a Nuggets team which plays 17 of its first 23 games on the road, where they are 2-4 and needed double overtime to secure one of those wins. They've allowed more than 100 points in four road games and not once at home.
Spurs star Tony Parker is averaging 15.8 points and 10.0 assists in home games, well above his numbers on the road. He's averaged 21.8 points on 59.2 percent shooting in his last five matchups with Denver.
His point guard counterpart, Lawson, has scored at least 20 points in three of his last four visits to San Antonio. Andre Iguodala has averaged 20.4 over his last five games there.
Nuggets teammate Kenneth Faried posted a fifth straight double-double Thursday with 16 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. The second-year forward now goes up against Tim Duncan, who had a season-best 14 boards Thursday and has blocked 15 shots over the last four games.
The status of San Antonio's Gary Neal is unknown. The reserve guard cut his right index finger while lifting his luggage before Tuesday's win and was limited to eight minutes in that game before sitting out Thursday.