NBA-best Spurs beat Anthony-less Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO: Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal scored 22 points apiece, and the San Antonio Spurs won their 10th in a row, 109-103 over the Denver Nuggets, who were without All-Star Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday night because of death of his sister.
The Spurs reached their second double-digit winning streak already this season and improved their NBA-best record to 25-3. It ranks among the 11 best starts to a season in NBA history.
Ty Lawson and J.R. Smith led the Nuggets with 22 points apiece, and Kenyon Martin played 17 minutes in his season debut after missing the first 26 games while recovering from knee surgery.
The Nuggets said Anthony will return after Christmas. Their next game is Christmas Day at Oklahoma City.
Richard Jefferson scored 16 points and rookie Tiago Splitter had 12 points and nine rebounds in his most meaningful game yet with the Spurs.
San Antonio trailed 89-80 at the end of the third quarter, but Denver shot 17 percent in the fourth and made just two field goals in the final 5 ¼ minutes.
It denied the Nuggets revenge after a stinging loss to the Spurs back home a week ago. That's when Anthony's apparent winner with 0.3 seconds left was waived off by officials, who said he barreled over Ginobili beneath the basket.
Ginobili hit the winner in Denver, and he also had a big shot in this one. He stopped dead in his tracks on a fast break with 2:48 left to knock down his fourth 3-pointer, giving the Spurs the lead for good.
Denver had taken the lead thanks to Smith, who made his first start in three seasons in Anthony's absence.
He scored all 16 of his second-half points in the third quarter and was 4 of 7 from behind the 3-point line. -Ap