Spurs rest starters in loss to Nuggets
DENVER (AP) -- Jusuf Nurkic scored a career-high 21 points, Gary Harris had two pivotal defensive plays in the waning seconds and the Denver Nuggets snapped a 10-game skid to San Antonio by beating the depleted Spurs 102-98 on Friday night.
Emmanuel Mudiay added 20 for the Nuggets, who knocked off San Antonio for the first time since April 10, 2013. They're the only team this season to beat both Golden State and San Antonio.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gave every starter except Tim Duncan the night off following a loss at Golden State on Thursday. Duncan finished with a season-high 21 points as the Spurs dropped two straight for the first time this season.
Wanting to keep his regulars fresh and with the second seed in the Western Conference already secured, Popovich sat LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tony Parker. Manu Ginobili also was out along with Boris Diaw, who's dealing with a sore right adductor.
That was nearly 72 percent of their scoring on the bench. David West and Kevin Martin helped pick up the slack as each had 17 points.
Denver experimented with its lineup by starting twin towers Nikola Jokic and Nurkic. It was effective as Jokic had eight points and 15 boards, while Nurkic also added nine rebounds.
JaKarr Sampson came up big as he scored 14 of his 16 points in the third quarter, helping the Nuggets build a 10-point lead.
It wouldn't last as the Spurs stormed back to lead by four, 96-92, with 3:41 remaining. Denver tied it at 98 when West was whistled for goaltending on a jumper by Nurkic with 43.5 seconds remaining.
That's when Harris stepped up with his defense. He intercepted a pass and was fouled with 30.1 seconds left, making both free throws. Then he stole another pass and made a layup to seal the win and help Denver snap a three-game skid.
Mudiay spent most of the first quarter guarding 16-year veteran Andre Miller. Their age difference is nearly 20 years. Mudiay had 12 in the first quarter. Miller finished with eight points.
Spurs: Duncan played in career game No. 1,391, tying him with Jason Kidd for seventh on the NBA's all-time list. ... Popovich said the dislocated right pinkie Aldridge suffered Thursday is doing fine.
Nuggets: Darrell Arthur was tending to a family matter and wasn't with the team. "Hopefully, he'll be back as soon as possible," coach Michael Malone said. ... Malone is campaigning for Jokic and Emmanuel Mudiay to make the NBA's all-rookie squad. ... F Kenneth Faried got the night off.
Popovich plans to go with his regular rotation Sunday when the Spurs host the Warriors. Still, he's not enamored with the fact San Antonio has won 48 straight regular-season games at home dating to last season. He said the streak is "absolutely meaningless" to him.
"What does that get you if you're defeated? Does it win you anything? That's why it's meaningless," Popovich said. "Maybe a cup of coffee or something. But that's about it."
Spurs: Host Golden State on Sunday.
Nuggets: Host Utah on Sunday.