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Denver at San Antonio

Spurs hold off Nuggets in tightly contested game

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich treats the stretch run of the regular season like a series of final exams for his team.

The Spurs passed their latest -- just barely.

Tim Duncan had 23 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks and the San Antonio Spurs escaped with a 100-99 victory against Denver on Wednesday night when Nuggets veteran guard Andre Miller missed a short jumper at the buzzer.

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"The schedule that we have is something that should be embraced and considered a great opportunity," Popovich said, "because it's like taking a final exam every day or most days. To get ready for the playoffs, understanding the physicality, aggressiveness and competitiveness that's necessary night after night in the playoffs."

Denver dished out a heavy dose of that playoff intensity.

Danny Green added 20 points and Tony Parker had 18 points and 11 assists for the Spurs, who remained games ahead of Oklahoma City in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference. Kawhi Leonard had 11 points and Tiago Splitter 10.

JaVale McGee had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Wilson Chandler scored 15 points and Miller 14 for the Nuggets, whose reserves outscored their Spurs counterparts 59-18. Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari added 12 points apiece and Andre Igoudala had 10.

San Antonio's starting five all scored in double figures, averaging 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists to counter Denver's bench and escape with its sixth straight home victory in a game that had 20 lead changes.

"I'm pretty sure the film will show it was a good loss, maybe the best loss of the year," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We did a lot of great stuff. We had to fight a lot of things and overcome not shooting the ball well. I think we know we can play better but I thought the heart of the game was pretty first class."

Denver outscored San Antonio 24-17 in the fourth quarter, including a 6-3 run in the final two minutes.

Duncan missed an 18-foot jumper with 10.2 seconds left, setting up Miller's driving attempt that bounced off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

Green was able to close on Gallinari, who was forced to give up the ball to Miller behind the 3-point line. Miller drove into the paint on Parker, but was unable to make the off-balance runner.

"I think we gave it a good shot," Karl said. "I've seen Andre make that shot a hundred times, but I'm not disappointed. I would've rather had Gallinari, probably in the attack. We knew they were probably going to switch our stuff. When he hesitated, it took enough time off the clock where Andre didn't have much of anything to do but attack aggressively and get us a good shot."

The Spurs (54-17) pulled within two games of Miami (56-15) in the loss column for the league's best record. The Heat lost 101-97 at Chicago, snapping their 27-game winning streak.

San Antonio's final 15 games feature matchups against 11 playoff teams, including its next two against the Los Angeles Clippers (Friday) and Miami (Sunday).

"It's a great win to start this homestand here," Duncan said. "We've got some really tough games this part of the schedule down the stretch here. It's going to be tough for us, so we need to win everyone we can get."

San Antonio escaped a minor scare when Parker sprained his right middle finger late in the third quarter, but returned to score four points in the fourth.

"I had no feeling in my finger so I just wanted to make sure it was not broken," said Parker, who will have X-rays Thursday morning. "They don't think it's broken."

Continuing the momentum they captured late in the first half, the Spurs outscored Denver 32-21 during a third quarter in which they shot 3 for 3 from 3-point range. The Nuggets failed to score any fast-break points in the third and were 9 for 23 in the quarter.

"It was a great test for our defense and for our offense when you play a team like that," Parker said. "They pack it in the paint really good. They stopped my penetrations, Manu's penetrations. So we had to make shots and trust each other. It was a great playoff intensity."

Notes

  • It was Duncan's fifth game of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks this season.
  • The Spurs are 64-19 all-time at home against the Nuggets.
  • The Spurs' Australian contingent -- G Patty Mills and C Aron Baynes -- were both on the inactive list.
  • Nuggets G Julyan Stone (knee) sat out with an injury. Stone has been inactive 61 times this season and had seven did not play-coach's decision.
  • Parker gave Duncan an inquisitive look when the All-Star power forward opted to toss a three-quarters court pass to Leonard off a rebound rather than give it to the point. Duncan's pass sailed untouched out of bounds as Parker stared dumbfounded, before smiling and shaking his head.
  • Former Spurs center David Robinson received a huge ovation when he appeared on the large television displays as the team honored those in attendance who had served in the Armed Forces.
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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San Antonio's Manu Ginobili misses a dunk attempt in the fourth quarter while Denver's Kenneth Faried defends.  (AP)
San Antonio's Manu Ginobili misses a dunk attempt in the fourth quarter while Denver's Kenneth Faried defends. (AP)

Scoreboard
Denver (49-24)2034212499
San Antonio (54-17) «22293217100
DEN:J. McGee 21 Pts
DEN:J. McGee 11 Reb
DEN:A. Miller 8 Ast
SA:T. Duncan 23 Pts
SA:T. Duncan 14 Reb
SA:T. Parker 11 Ast
Players of the Game
DenverSan Antonio

JaVale McGee

Tim Duncan
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
2111023140
Denver
A. Iguodala, SG374-92-327010
D. Gallinari, SF313-96-662312
K. Faried, SF226-80-041312
K. Koufos, C202-30-05044
T. Lawson, PG201-70-00332
W. Chandler, SF346-133-353215
A. Miller, PG287-180-058214
J. McGee, C2610-111-1110321
C. Brewer, SF223-103-43249
A. Randolph, PFDid Not Play
J. Hamilton, SFDid Not Play
T. Mozgov, CDid Not Play
J. Stone, PGDid Not Play
E. Fournier, SGDid Not Play
Q. Miller, SFDid Not Play
Totals 42-8815-1741262499
 47.7%88.2% 
San Antonio
K. Leonard, SF384-72-373011
T. Duncan, PF369-185-6140323
T. Parker, PG356-165-6311218
D. Green, SF336-122-440220
T. Splitter, C262-66-860010
M. Ginobili, SG274-90-01449
B. Diaw, PF181-20-01022
C. Joseph, PG132-30-00105
D. Blair, PF71-20-02122
S. Jackson, SF60-10-00020
M. Bonner, PFDid Not Play
N. De Colo, PGDid Not Play
P. Mills, PGDid Not Play
G. Neal, PGDid Not Play
A. Baynes, PFDid Not Play
Totals 35-7620-27382017100
 46.1%74.1% 
Other Games
Bos 93 Final
Cle 92
Mil 92 Final
Phi 100
Atl 107 Final
Tor 88
Orl 108 Final
Char 114
Mem 101 Final
NY 108
LAC 105 Final
NO 91
Mia 97 Final
Chi 101
Ind 100 Final
Hou 91
LAL 120 Final
Min 117
Wash 80 Final
OKC 103
Pho 88 Final
Utah 103
Sac 105 Final
GS 98
Brook 111 Final
Port 93