Nuggets 99, Spurs 94
Forget who the banged-up Denver Nuggets are missing. Never mind
Manu Ginobili returning to the San Antonio Spurs.
Because barely at half-strength, Denver still surprised the now
fully stocked Spurs.
Ty Lawson had 22 points and 11 assists, and squared up from 19
feet to sink the game-clinching jumper with 11.9 seconds left,
putting the injury-laden Nuggets past Ginobili and the Spurs 99-94
on Sunday night.
Still without leading scorer Danilo Gallinari and Nene – and not
to mention backup guard Rudy Fernandez – the Nuggets won their
third in a row with a short-handed cast that became just the third
team to beat San Antonio at home.
”It’s huge. Huge for us,” Lawson said. ”Especially having
three rotation players and two starters out. But we’re starting to
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 25 points. Ginobili scored eight
in 24 minutes, playing his first game in two weeks after straining
a stomach muscle. He missed a month before that with a broken hand,
which made Sunday just the 10th game this season for San Antonio’s
Gary Neal had a chance to tie, but his 3-pointer rimmed out in
the final second. Ginobili said he felt ”more explosive” then
when he returned from the broken hand last month, but still
admitted he was playing cautious.
”We’ve been playing really well, then I come back and we lose.
So it’s not a great feeling,” Ginobili said.
Al Harrington scored 16 points off the bench, and Arron Afflalo
had 14 for Denver.
The Nuggets even somehow left more banged up than they arrived.
Center Timofey Mozgov, who had already been a game-time decision
because of a sprained ankle, hurt his foot again in the third
quarter after landing awkwardly while coming down for a
Mozgov hobbled to the locker room but returned to the bench
after having the ankle re-taped. The Nuggets said he was available
to return, but the 7-footer never came back.
But even down yet another body, the Nuggets hung on. Tim Duncan
cut Denver’s lead to 95-94 on a dunk with 29.9 seconds left, but
Lawson answered right back on the next possession with his
19-footer that put the game away.
”I told him during a timeout that he’s going to have to make a
shot,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. ”He played great.”
Ginobili shot 2 of 5 from the floor, with both makes being 3s.
He also had five assists and four rebounds, and played little like
his usual, electrifying self.
Even though the Spurs were finally full-strength again with
Ginobili – backup point guard T.J. Ford finally returned from a
stubborn pulled hamstring this week, too – they weren’t totally
healthy. Duncan played with flulike symptoms but still lasted 24
minutes, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Yet despite being ill, Duncan showed some unusual spark in one
of the game’s biggest highlights. Facing up Chris Andersen in the
second quarter, Duncan brushed back Andersen after swiping him in
the face with the ball, then charged hard past him for a rare
Duncan, however, also had his poor moments. He missed two free
throws in the final minute that would have cut the lead to one, but
redeemed himself the next time down with a dunk set up by
”They’re just very active. They do a lot of shifting, they get
in the paint,” Duncan said. ”They make us kick the ball; we got
some pretty good shots at times, we weren’t able to knock them
Duncan Rookie Kawhi Leonard scored 13 points and Matt Bonner had
11 off the bench for the Spurs.
So decimated by injuries are the Nuggets that all their starters
except for Mozgov logged at least 32 minutes. Lawson played 38 and
was 7 of 16 from the floor.
Second-place is hardly where anyone expected the Spurs to be
while Parker and Duncan – minus Ginobili – played alongside their
least-experienced supporting cast in their decade together. Yet San
Antonio went 18-9 without their All-Star and leading scorer from a
year ago, and now have the second half of the season to tinker with
a whole roster.
Presuming, that is, that the Spurs can stay healthy.
Their first game fully stocked was a rocky one. The Nuggets,
who’ve been without Gallinari for a month with an ankle sprain,
looked the entire game like the far livelier team despite their
The Spurs had lost at home just twice this season, and were
stunned to find themselves down 16 in the second quarter. Parker
brought San Antonio back with 10 points during a 16-6 run that cut
the lead the 49-45 at halftime, while cold-shooting Denver made
just one field goal in the last eight minutes of the half.
Notes: Spurs C DeJuan Blair was hurt with a bruised left knee
just 17 seconds into the game after colliding with Mozgov under the
basket. He returned to the game, but played just five total
minutes. … The Nuggets avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of