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San Antonio at Denver

Nuggets earn big win over Spurs, ending San Antonio's 11-game streak

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DENVER -- These Denver Nuggets are starting to show they could much more than the first-round fodder they always are in the playoffs.

Now, if they can just make it that far.

Allen Iverson scored 29 points despite spraining his right ring finger in the first half and the Nuggets snapped San Antonio's 11-game winning streak with a 109-96 statement win over the Spurs on Friday night.

"It's just because our backs are against the wall," Iverson said after Denver's second big win over a nemesis (Phoenix) in 48 hours. "We understand that every night we have to come in here and play hard and play together and not take any possessions off. We know how serious it is in the West, and if we don't get our act together it's going to be a chance we're not going to be in the playoffs.

"And with our roster ... there's no way we shouldn't be in the playoffs."

Can you imagine? With two All-Star starters in Iverson and Carmelo Anthony and the reigning defensive player of the year in Marcus Camby?

The Nuggets sure can't fathom it.

They're off to their best start in 20 years, but even at 37-24, they're on the fringe of the wild Western Conference playoff picture, remaining one game behind Golden State for the eighth spot heading into the final six weeks.

X-rays were negative on Iverson's finger. He was injured when Tony Parker jammed the ball back into his right hand in the first half. Iverson said it was sore and he knew it would bother him Saturday night but doubted it would keep him out of the Nuggets' big game against Northwest Division-leading Utah.

Anthony also is listed as probable against the Jazz after bruising his left knee.

He overcame a bad first half (1-for-7 from the floor) to finish with 25 points as the Nuggets won for the 13th time in their last 15 games at the Pepsi Center, which was rocking like it hadn't since Denver faced San Antonio in the playoffs last season.

In overcoming an eight-point halftime deficit with a dominating second half, the Nuggets swept the Spurs at home for the first time since 1988-89. Last month, they beat the Spurs 80-77. This one was more of Denver's preferred style, with lots of running and gunning -- and everybody got into the act.

Eduardo Najera tied his career high with 19 points and fellow reserve J.R. Smith added 15 to spark Denver's second-half surge. Smith's 3-pointer from the top of the key after Najera tipped a rebound to him made it 96-81 with six minutes left.

"That might be the best game I've seen Eddie play," said Nuggets coach George Karl, who had plenty of things to smile and brag about on this night.

"The third quarter, the defense was great and never really slacked off," Karl said. "Maybe a couple of times in the fourth quarter when we had a lead and let them have some easy baskets, but a hell of a win."

Manu Ginobili scored 24 points and Tim Duncan added 23 for the Spurs, who fell to 9-4 in the second game of back-to-backs despite arriving in the Mile High City well-rested.

None of them played more than 28 minutes in coasting to a win over Indiana in San Antonio on Thursday night, and coach Gregg Popovich also had a chance to rest his vocal cords -- he was ejected in the second quarter for arguing a no-call against Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy.

San Antonio fell a-half game behind the Lakers for the top spot in the West.

"We're not at the same level we were at last year at this time, even though we seem to be situated relatively well in the West," Popovich said. "This team isn't as good as last year's team. We have significant improvement that we have to make both mentally and physically if we're going to be able to contend for the championship."

Notes

  • G Chucky Atkins returned to action for Denver after missing 26 games following sports hernia surgery. He didn't score any points in 7 1/2 minutes, missing his only field goal attempt.
  • F Nene, who is recovering from testicular cancer and recently underwent chemotherapy, was on the bench in a suit for the first time since undergoing surgery on Jan. 14.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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The Spurs have no answer for Allen Iverson (29 points) and lose their streak as a result.   (Getty Images)
The Spurs have no answer for Allen Iverson (29 points) and lose their streak as a result. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
San Antonio (43-18) 2628192396
Denver (37-24) «26203429109
SA:M. Ginobili 24 Pts
SA:T. Duncan 9 Reb
SA:T. Parker 6 Ast
DEN:A. Iverson 29 Pts
DEN:M. Camby 13 Reb
DEN:A. Iverson 9 Ast
Players of the Game
DenverSan Antonio

A. Iverson

M. Ginobili
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
29292445
San Antonio
T. Duncan, PF338-117-992223
T. Parker, PG292-70-02634
M. Ginobili, SG289-174-445324
B. Bowen, SF255-70-022311
K. Thomas, PF243-60-06126
I. Udoka, SF262-50-03256
M. Finley, SG232-81-10216
R. Horry, PF152-50-02235
D. Stoudamire, PG142-30-00235
J. Vaughn, PG90-20-00010
F. Oberto, C90-10-02010
M. Bonner, PF62-32-21016
I. Mahinmi, CDid Not Play
Totals 37-7514-1631242896
 49.3%87.5% 
Denver
A. Iverson, SG4410-167-1029129
C. Anthony, SF397-1711-1683325
K. Martin, PF334-60-25068
M. Camby, C314-110-113118
A. Carter, PG191-22-21215
J. Smith, SG266-100-012315
E. Najera, PF258-102-262419
L. Kleiza, SF140-10-03410
C. Atkins, PG70-10-00000
Y. Diawara, SG10-00-00000
S. Hunter, PFDid Not Play
Nene, PFDid Not Play
T. Green, PGDid Not Play
Totals 40-7422-33392320109
 54.1%66.7% 
Other Games
Sea 83 Final
Phi 117
Wash 110 Final
Tor 106
Atl 93 Final
Char 108
GS 134 Final
Mia 99
Det 101 Final
NY 97
Chi 93 Final
Bos 116
NJ 96 Final
NO 107
Port 103 Final
Mil 101
Utah 126 Final
Pho 118
Min 111 Final
Sac 103
LAC 82 Final
LAL 119