SAN ANTONIO -- The Denver Nuggets ended the San Antonio Spurs' season-high, 11-game winning streak last week, but the defending champions weren't about to let that same team hand them a season-high losing streak on Monday.
The Spurs beat the Nuggets 107-103 on Monday night, avoiding what would have been only their second three-game skid of the season.
"We were more aggressive than we were Friday night," said recent acquisition Kurt Thomas, who had 13 points for San Antonio. "We were diving on the floor, getting loose balls, and the fact that we hit shots. That's something we didn't do in the third quarter on Friday."
It was the second meeting between the teams in four days. The Nuggets beat San Antonio 109-96 in Denver on Friday.
"Manu stepped up and was passing the ball great -- finding people left and right," Duncan said. "So we had good efforts all the way around."
"We just played the world champions two games and we beat them once and they beat us once," Iverson said. "I feel confident playing anybody."
Iverson has a non-displaced fracture in the tip of his right ring finger. He hurt the finger on Friday against the Spurs. An X-ray detected the injury on Monday.
San Antonio is now tied with the Los Angeles Lakers at the top of the competitive Western Conference. The Nuggets have lost two in a row and are just outside playoff contention in ninth place in the West.
"We have 19 playoff games left," said Denver coach George Karl, referring to the Nuggets' push to make the postseason. "This is an incredible year. This is such a unique season. ... We're moving in the right direction. We're doing some good things."
The Spurs were up 84-80 going into the fourth quarter, but they wouldn't keep the lead for long - the teams were tied six times during the final period.
Smith, up against Duncan, made a tough reverse layup to break an 88-all tie with 7:25 to play, and Eduardo Najera soon followed with a dunk that put the Nuggets up 92-89. But neither team could pull away.
Kenyon Martin tied it at 100 with 2:18 to go before the Spurs took the lead for good. Duncan hit his eighth and ninth free throws of the night and Thomas made a crucial basket to make it 104-100 with a minute to play.
The Nuggets missed two shots on their next possession, and Ginobili hit two free throws after being fouled by Smith with 23 seconds left. Bruce Bowen hit one of two free throws with 16 on the clock to make it 107-100, and Smith's three-point play came too late to matter for Denver.
"They're a great team. Every time we play them it's going to be tough," Smith said. "We played hard today; it just wasn't enough. They're one of the best teams ever going down the stretch."
Bowen added 11 points for the Spurs and Matt Bonner scored 10.
The Nuggets led by as many as seven in the third before the Spurs went on a 16-5 run to close the quarter and take an 84-80 lead with one period to go.
Bonner's long 3 from the top of the arc made it 80-77 with 1:37 to go, giving the Spurs their first lead since early in the quarter.
Smith's dunk with 1:02 left in the quarter quieted the crowd, but only briefly. San Antonio's Michael Finley promptly hit a 3 from the corner with 42.8 seconds to go, giving San Antonio an 83-79 advantage.
Iverson's finger didn't appear to be bothering him much. He hit back-to-back 3s for the Nuggets late in the first half, helping give Denver a 58-55 halftime lead. Iverson led all scorers at the break with 15 points. The Spurs were up 27-23 after one.
|The Spurs' Tony Parker scores past J.R. Smith and finishes the contest with 16 points. (AP)|
|San Antonio (44-19) «||27||28||29||23||107|
|DEN:A. Iverson 28 Pts
DEN:M. Camby 14 Reb
DEN:M. Camby 4 Ast
|SA:T. Duncan 23 Pts
SA:T. Duncan 18 Reb
SA:M. Ginobili 14 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|A. Iverson, SG||43||9-22||7-7||5||4||2||28|
|C. Anthony, SF||40||8-15||2-2||7||4||3||18|
|K. Martin, PF||31||7-15||2-5||5||0||5||16|
|M. Camby, C||29||1-5||1-2||14||4||2||3|
|A. Carter, PG||19||4-7||0-0||2||1||1||10|
|J. Smith, SG||29||9-13||3-5||6||1||4||22|
|E. Najera, PF||23||1-3||2-2||2||2||3||4|
|L. Kleiza, SF||15||1-4||0-0||5||1||1||2|
|C. Atkins, PG||12||0-1||0-0||0||1||1||0|
|S. Hunter, PF||Did Not Play|
|Nene, PF||Did Not Play|
|Y. Diawara, SG||Did Not Play|
|T. Green, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|B. Bowen, SF||41||4-8||1-2||2||0||2||11|
|T. Duncan, PF||39||7-15||9-10||18||5||2||23|
|T. Parker, PG||39||6-14||4-4||2||4||1||16|
|M. Ginobili, SG||32||4-11||4-4||3||14||2||13|
|K. Thomas, PF||24||6-8||1-4||2||0||5||13|
|M. Finley, SG||19||3-6||1-1||3||0||2||8|
|M. Bonner, PF||15||4-8||1-2||2||0||2||10|
|I. Udoka, SF||14||4-11||1-2||2||1||2||9|
|F. Oberto, C||8||1-2||0-0||4||1||1||2|
|D. Stoudamire, PG||6||1-1||0-0||0||2||1||2|
|J. Vaughn, PG||3||0-0||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|R. Horry, PF||Did Not Play|
|I. Mahinmi, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|