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Parker, Spurs spoil Smith's return

Jan 11, 2007 - 6:23 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- Tony Parker spoiled J.R. Smith's return to the court.

Parker had 26 points and seven assists to lead four starters in double figures as the San Antonio Spurs posted a 92-83 triumph over the Denver Nuggets.

Tim Duncan collected 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks and Manu Ginobili added 16 points and four steals for San Antonio, which has won three straight games.

Smith returned after serving a 10-game suspension for his involvement in the brawl against New York on December 16. The game also resulted in the loss of Carmelo Anthony, the league's leading scorer who has five games left on his 15-game suspension.

"It was fun. It was good to have him back," Denver guard Allen Iverson said. "He played well. You could tell he's been working while he's been out. It was just good to have him back. Another piece to our puzzle."

Smith looked a bit rusty, finishing with 12 points and two steals in 32 minutes off the bench. He made 5-of-13 shots.

"It felt good to get out there and play with my teammates," Smith said. "It felt real good. Instead of playing the same guys every day at practice, we finally get to go up against somebody else."

"Overall I was happy with J.R.," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "He was one of our top five players."

Iverson scored 33 points for the Nuggets, who fell to 3-7 since the four-time scoring champion was acquired in a trade from Philadelphia. It was just his third game with at least 30 points since December 22.

"I just really got into a little rhythm," Iverson said. "They're still playing me the same way, playing a lot of shadow on defense. When I come off the pick and roll, it's always the big man and the guy that's guarding me. I just found a little rhythm and I was able to get some things done."

Late in the fourth quarter, Ginobili drained a jumper off the glass, then stole a pass and found Parker streaking for an easy fast-break layup 1:31 remaining as the Spurs built an 88-80 edge.

"Manu is a wonderful player," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Whether he makes a mistake or not, or seems to be rolling or not is irrelevant. You want to keep him on the floor as much as you can, just as long as he's not too tired."

Iverson converted a three-point play with 40 seconds to go, making it 88-85. But Ginobili and Parker scored on consecutive layups in the final moments to seal the win.

"Defensively I thought we broke down with the stops," Karl said. "With a three to five point game in the fourth quarter, we just couldn't get the stops we needed. We aren't going to be a very good defensive team until we get the entire team together in practice."

Earl Boykins scored 18 points and Marcus Camby had nine and 16 rebounds for Denver, which shot 45 percent (35-of-77) from the field and committed 17 turnovers.