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Without Duncan, Spurs fall to Nuggets

Mar 24, 2011 - 7:21 AM Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Wilson Chandler only scored eight points, but his jumper in the final minute put the Denver Nuggets ahead for good in a 115-112 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

In a game where the teams combined to make 25 three-pointers, Manu Ginobili missed the two most important tries for San Antonio in the last 13 seconds.

He was off-target on a step-back three from the right side that could have given the Spurs the lead, and he airballed a last-second try with Kenyon Martin in his face.

"We were down three, six seconds to go with Kenyon Martin all over me. I had to take a three," said Ginobili.

San Antonio, playing without injured star Tim Duncan, lost for only the second time in eight games and saw its lead for No. 1 in the Western Conference trimmed to six games over the idle Lakers.

Al Harrington scored 27 points off the bench to lead the Nuggets, who remained four games behind Oklahoma City for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference despite winning for the sixth time in eight games.

The Spurs led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter and carried a 34-24 advantage into the second.

Then, things really picked up.

The teams combined to score 75 points in the quarter, with the Spurs hitting on 6-of-8 from three-point range and Denver knocking down 6-of-10. San Antonio reserve Gary Neal scored 14 of his team-high 25 points in the quarter, hitting all three of his long-range attempts.

After all the scoring, the Spurs clung to a 69-64 lead at halftime and were still ahead 93-90 heading into the fourth quarter.

Missing Duncan, who sprained his left ankle in the first quarter of Monday's win over Golden State, San Antonio allowed the Nuggets to claw back.

They used an 8-0 run to take the lead, erasing a seven-point deficit and moving ahead on J.R. Smith's jumper to make it 99-98 with 7:06 remaining. Harrington's three-pointer on the next possession pushed Denver's lead to four.

Neal cut it to 102-101 with his sixth three-pointer of the game. The teams battled down the stretch, and both sides got key plays in the final minutes.

Antonio McDyess missed a layup but kept the ball alive for Neal, whose putback tied the game for San Antonio at 112-112 with 1:33 remaining. But Chandler worked Ginobili at the other end, knocking down his mid-range jumper despite Neal coming over to help on defense.

"Gotta give a lot of credit to the team. Without them, we wouldn't have been that close for me to make the shot," Chandler said. "It was a big team effort."

The bucket gave Denver a 114-112 lead with 29.3 seconds left.

Ginobili dribbled, stepped back and missed his three-point try from near the top of the key at the other end, forcing the Spurs to foul Raymond Felton. After he made 1-of-2 at the line, San Antonio called timeout.

Ginobili received the inbounds pass in the backcourt and dribbled over the line on the left side. Met by Martin, he was able to get a shot off -- but with a hand in his face, the ball missed everything on the right side.

"I couldn't get closer," said Ginobili.

With the win, Denver snapped a five-game losing streak to the Spurs dating back to its last win on January 31, 2010.

"The way the Spurs play is the way we want to play, at the end of the day," said Harrington. "So it was a great test for us ... to see who would be better, and tonight it was us."

Game Notes

The Spurs finished 13-of-32 from three-point range, going just 4-of-18 in the second half...Denver was 12-of-21 on three-pointers, including an efficient 5- for-8 in the second half...Ginobili had 20 points and Tony Parker scored 19 for the Spurs, who also got 13 points and 12 rebounds from McDyess...Felton and Smith scored 18 apiece for Denver, while Nene had eight points and 10 rebounds...The Spurs remain an NBA-best 57-14.