Making shots on one end and altering them on the other, Duncan
had 23 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks Friday night to help the
San Antonio Spurs snap Denver's four-game winning streak with an
"Tim Duncan is a great player, an excellent player," said
Nuggets forward Nene, who drew the job of trying to stop him. "If
you're not 100 percent, you can try and try, but get nothing."
The two-time Most Valuable Player scored 19 of his points in the
first half while the Spurs were building their double-digit lead.
His night was made easier by the absence of Martin, a top-notch
defender who started and played the first six minutes but sat out
the rest of the game.
"We do the same things no matter who is on the court, but
obviously they would rather have him out there," Spurs coach Gregg
Popovich said. "That definitely hurt them and made it easier for
Carmelo Anthony, also feeling sick, scored 24 points to lead the
Nuggets, who got over the .500 mark for the first time this season
with a victory against New Jersey on Tuesday. That win made them
4-0 on their current homestand, and they needed a win over the
Spurs to finish it undefeated.
But this game was never much of a contest.
Duncan scored eight of his points and the Spurs built their lead
to 11 before Martin left the game, draping his head in a towel and
bundling up to fight the chills. After that, Marcus Camby and Nene
took turns covering Duncan, but without much success. He went
9-for-10 from the floor in the first half.
Duncan's six blocks were a season high and just two shy of his
career best. The Nuggets missed 17 shots in the paint en route to
their lowest point total of the season. They shot 34 percent and
failed to reach 80 points for the first time since opening night.
"When you don't shoot well from the perimeter and don't shoot
well in the paint, you are going to struggle," Nuggets coach Jeff
Trailing 53-37 at the half, Denver scored the first four baskets
of the third quarter to cut the deficit to eight. But after a
timeout, San Antonio scored 10 straight points -- including a dunk
by Ginobili, who sliced through the defense uncontested -- and
Denver never got it under 10 again.
Camby finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets
for his first double-double of the season. Earl Boykins, who had
been averaging 21.5 points during the homestand despite dislocating
the middle finger on his shooting hand, scored just nine.
Pretty much everyone agreed that this game was essentially
decided after the first quarter.
"It was good for us to know that our defense was there" early,
Ginobili said. "Then we could make some shots, and if we start
making free throws or making open shots, everything comes easier
Bzdelik said he didn't know if Anthony or Martin would play
Saturday at Houston. ... The shaggy-haired Miller promised
teammates he would cut his hair off if the Nuggets swept their
homestand. The Nuggets went 4-1, but Anthony, for one, said he
still wants to see the hair come off. ... Popovich said his players
drank lots of water all day in Denver to combat the high altitude
and dryness. "It's a physiological thing," he said. "I don't
know if it works, but if it makes them feel good, that's great."
... Popovich, who was on the U.S. Olympic team coaching staff, said
"I'm not going to go there," when asked about Anthony's poor
performance in Athens. But he praised the Nuggets forward for what
he's done since the NBA season started. "He's doing a fantastic
job for them."
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