Spurs lose second straight to the Nuggets
By PAUL J. WEBER,
Associated Press Writer
SAN ANTONIO (AP) Carmelo Anthony won another game for the Denver Nuggets, then parked in front of a television in the locker room trying to will the Texas Longhorns to a victory in the Big 12 Championship football game.
These days, the NBA’s leading scorer can’t lose.
Anthony scored 22 of his 34 points in the second half, and the Nuggets won their third straight with a 106-99 victory over the San Antonio Spurs to continue their best start in franchise history. Denver had trailed virtually the entire game until early in the fourth quarter, then never gave the lead back.
“For us to come in and gut this one out, it was a statement win for us,” Anthony said.
Chauncey Billups added 18 points as Denver pushed its record to 15-5 and continued the best start in franchise history. The Nuggets will continue their four-game trip Monday night in Philadelphia for a reunion with Allen Iverson, who is expected to make his 76ers return against his former team.
“If AI plays, it’s going to be a mad house,” Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin said.
Tony Parker scored 15 of his 27 points in the fourth for the Spurs, who lost their second straight. Tim Duncan had 26 points as the Spurs fell to a division leader for the second time in three nights.
San Antonio had held five of its last seven opponents below 90 points, but the NBA’s highest-scoring team presented a tougher challenge. Duncan tried to match Anthony best he could, and shot 10 of 12 from the field.
The Spurs had 19 turnovers and made just 10 field goals in the second half. It was another night of sloppy play for San Antonio, which also committed 19 turnovers on Thursday in on a loss to Boston.
“Way too many,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “We are a 10 or an eight (turnover team). That’s when we are at our best. A team like (Denver), they’ll punish you.”
Anthony, averaging an NBA-leading 30.4 points per game, remained the NBA’s only player to score at least 20 points in every game this season.
If he does it again Monday at Philadelphia, his streak of 21 straight games will be the most since – guess who – Iverson did it at the start of the 2005-06 season. Iverson was traded to Denver a year later, and he spent nearly two seasons with the Nuggets.
Anthony was 4 of 11 from the field at halftime and finished the game 14 of 27. He also had seven rebounds.
“I just wanted to take my time,” Anthony said. “Some of those things should have went my way in the first half, but it didn’t. I tried not to get frustrated out there.”
Martin had nine points and 13 rebounds and J.R. Smith had 17 points.
Rookie Ty Lawson scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth, when the Nuggets outscored the Spurs 31-23. The Spurs led for virtually the entire game before Smith sank a 3-pointer to open the fourth, giving the Nuggets a 78-76 lead.
Denver gradually found their touch after shooting 37 percent in the first quarter, including a rocky 2-of-7 start for Anthony.
After Philadelphia, the Nuggets will continue their road trip against Charlotte and Detroit – all teams with losing records.
The loss ended a monthlong stand in the Lone Star State for the Spurs, who haven’t left Texas in their last dozen games. San Antonio went 7-5 over that stretch and will go to Utah on Monday for its first road game since Nov. 9.
Ginobili had 14 points for San Antonio, and Richard Jefferson added 10.
NOTES: Spurs F Antonio McDyess has not scored in the last three games. … Spurs F Michael Finley sprained his left ankle in the fourth and did not return. If he misses Monday’s game at Utah, it will be the first time in 335 games that Finley has missed a game to injury. It last happened in November 2005.
Updated December 6, 2009