Spurs 114, Nuggets 99

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 24, 2012
DeJuan Blair tied a career high with 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, helping the San Antonio Spurs beat the Denver Nuggets 114-99 on Thursday night to wrap up a nine-game road swing. Buoyed by a 19-1 run midway through the first quarter, the Spurs jumped out to a big lead and then held on at the end. They've won 12 of their last 13 heading into the All-Star break and lead the Southwest Division by three games over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. All five starters for the Spurs scored in double figures. Tony Parker had 16 points and 12 assists, while Tim Duncan added 18 points. Richard Jefferson hit 5 of 7 3-point attempts and scored 17. The Spurs finished their rodeo road swing with an 8-1 mark. In all, the team spent 17 days away from home and logged 7,941 miles. The nine straight games away tied a franchise record. Corey Brewer scored 23 points for the banged-up and beleaguered Nuggets, who have lost 12 of their last 16 to drop out of the playoff picture. The loudest cheer of the night came when rookie Kenneth Faried slammed home a pass from Andre Miller midway through the third quarter. That cut the Spurs' lead to 24 points. It was simply that kind of night for Denver. Duncan and Parker were back in the lineup after coach Gregg Popovich elected to rest them in a lopsided 137-97 loss in Portland on Tuesday. While most of the Spurs receive a break, Parker will head to the All-Star game as a reserve. He will be making his fourth appearance, joining George Gervin, David Robinson and Duncan as the only San Antonio players be picked at least that many times. Parker is in the midst of another strong season, averaging nearly 20 points and eight assists. Before the game, Nuggets coach George Karl was asked what his team's focus would be against the Spurs. ''Parker,'' he said, with little hesitation. But the problem Thursday was perimeter defense as the Spurs hit 13 3-pointers and shot 48 percent from the field. San Antonio led by as many as 28 points in the second half and looked to be headed toward a rout. Duncan even took a seat on the bench, figuring his night was finished. When the Nuggets pulled within 12 points with 6:42 remaining, Popovich quickly summoned Duncan back into the game. From there, the Spurs pulled away again. Blair hit four straight free throws to silence the threat. Blair was dominant down low, hitting 12 of 21 shots. The Nuggets showed their fatigue early on, falling behind 26-7 midway through the opening quarter. The team arrived back in town late Tuesday night after a 103-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. This has been an injury-filled season for the Nuggets. They were without speedy point guard Ty Lawson (left ankle), big man Nene (calf strain) and leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (left ankle). Although they were supposed to have Rudy Fernandez back on the court, he ended up missing his fourth straight game with a strained lower back. Miller finished with 20 points, while Jordan Hamilton had an interesting stat line - no points and nine boards. NOTES: The Nuggets wore retro uniforms, leading Karl to suggest that maybe the league should look into using striped basketballs in team colors. ''It would be fun,'' he said. ''But I think that's too out there.'' ... Nuggets F Chris ''Birdman'' Andersen made his first appearance in three games. ... The Nuggets tied season lows for points in a quarter (15 in the first) and for the opening half (39). ... Spurs F Kawhi Leonard (calf) didn't play in the second half. He had two points. ... The Spurs were missing Manu Ginobili, who's out with a strained left oblique. The team is 17-8 this season in Ginobili's absence.
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