Spurs lose lead, game to surging Nuggets
DENVER (AP) -- Wilson Chandler scored 29 points and Corey Brewer had 28 as the Denver Nuggets overcame a slow start Wednesday night to post their franchise-record 21st straight home win, 96-86 over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Nuggets (54-24) also tied their franchise record for victories in an NBA season, with four games remaining, including two at home, where they improved to a league-best 36-3.
Andre Iguodala recorded a triple-double with 12 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds for the Nuggets, who haven't lost at home since Jan. 18 against Washington.
They broke the old mark of 20 straight home wins set by Doug Moe's 1984-85 team.
And they did it by overcoming a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter. Denver took a 38-37 lead into the locker room at halftime and atoned for its slow start by scoring the first 13 points of the fourth quarter.
That gave the Nuggets an 82-63 lead.
Even with Tim Duncan (17 points) sitting out the fourth quarter, the Spurs fought back, pulling to 89-82 on Gary Neal's 3-pointer with 2:33 remaining.
DeJuan Blair's three-point play with 1:33 left made it 91-86 but the Spurs didn't score again. Blair also finished with 17 points.
Point guards Ty Lawson and Tony Parker sat out the showdown, Parker with a sore back and Lawson with an ailing right heel, and their absences were felt when both teams shot just 36 percent in an ugly first half.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he didn't want to risk playing Parker in light of his team's injury epidemic.
Popovich revealed that Boris Diaw will miss two to three weeks with a back injury, and Manu Ginobili has missed several games with a strained right hamstring. Parker also has been dealing with a balky left ankle.
Lawson has missed eight of Denver's last nine games and five straight. He has a torn right plantar fascia and returned to practice Tuesday. Coach George Karl said he needs to see more progress from Lawson before he puts him back in the lineup.
Lawson wants to test his pain threshold in at least two or three games before the playoffs begin.
Denver used a 12-2 run in the third quarter to take a 57-53 lead and finished the quarter ahead 69-63. By the time Blair scored with 7:51 left, the Nuggets had gone on a 37-10 tear.
The Nuggets have two home games remaining, against Portland on Sunday and Phoenix on Wednesday night, to try to break the team record for home victories since joining the NBA 37 years ago. Denver went 36-5 at home under coach Larry Brown in 1976-77.
The Spurs scored the game's first dozen points, much to the chagrin of the Pepsi Center crowd, which was implored to stand until the Nuggets scored their first points.
Karl called a timeout with 8:23 left in the first quarter and Denver trailing 12-0 after Duncan hit three jumpers. Duncan hit another to make it 14-0, and the fans finally got to rest after Chandler sank a running jump shot at the 6:45 mark.
The Nuggets shot several airballs in the first quarter, when they were just 5 for 23 from the floor and missed their only free throw.
The Spurs weren't immune from the shooting foibles, missing 20 of 24 during one stretch as the Nuggets clawed their way back into the game and took a 24-23 lead on Kenneth Faried's jumper with 6:26 left in the half.
Finally, the Nuggets took a 38-37 lead into the locker room. That marked the Spurs' lowest-scoring half of the season and only Chandler's bucket in the final minute of the second quarter prevented the Nuggets from tying their low of 36 points for a half this season.
NOTES: The Nuggets went 54-28 in both 1987-88 and 2008-09. ... The Spurs' previous worst half was a 38-point effort at Minnesota on March 12. The Nuggets scored 36 points in each half against Memphis on Dec. 29. ... Karl was named winner of the Rudy Tomjanovich Award by the Pro Basketball Writers Association. It honors the NBA coach for his dealings with the media and the public. ... JaVale McGee blocked back-to-back shots in the first half from Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph, who grabbed the ricochet and scored only to see the bucket waved off by a shot clock violation.