for this game

Horry's clutch jumper lifts Spurs over Nuggets

Apr 29, 2007 - 5:19 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- "Big Shot" Bob strikes again.

Robert Horry made a crucial jumper in the waning seconds and Tim Duncan collected 20 points and 13 rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs took a two-games-to-one lead over the Denver Nuggets with a 96-91 victory Saturday.

Tony Parker had 21 points and six assists for the Spurs, who used a decisive third-quarter run to take control of the game. The Spurs relied on their trademark defense in the final period to secure the victory.

"It was a physical game both ways, both teams got after it and we ended up making enough shots to win," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "We're thrilled with the win against one (heck) of a team.

"We played pretty good defense. I thought that Carmelo (Anthony) got away from us, and we were poor on the boards, but our team defense in general ... was pretty good."

In his 15th season, Horry owns six championship rings as a member of the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Spurs. But the lanky forward was more than just along for the ride on those squads.

Horry built a reputation for hitting clutch shots in the biggest moments and it was no different Saturday. The 36-year-old forward, who already has hinted that this will be his last season, made sure a Denver comeback was thwarted.

"A lot of times the pressure makes me play a little bit better," Horry said. "I don't want to let my teammates down or my fans down. That gives me that extra energy to go out and play harder."

After two free throws by Marcus Camby cut the Nuggets' deficit to five points, Horry came up huge on the ensuing possession. Losing his dribble temporarily in the left corner, Horry righted himself and drained an off-balance jumper with his foot on the line to make it 94-87 with 43 seconds left.

Denver did not recover.

"As a team, we're playing good basketball," Horry said. "We're rebounding better, we're executing better. We're just playing better as a team overall."

San Antonio went on a 14-5 run to end the third quarter, capped by Horry's 3-pointer with six seconds left to make it 75-67. The spurt set the tone for the final period, which featured shut-down defensive efforts from Duncan and Horry as the Nuggets tried to drive to the basket.

"I thought we responded pretty well," Parker said. "We had a slow start but we got in the game and was able to control the pace. I thought we played our pace. We didn't try to run with them. I thought overall we played pretty good defense."

"(The run) hurt us, obviously," Nuggets superstar Allen Iverson said. "We didn't take care of the ball and they hit some big shots and turned the momentum their way."

But it has not been easy in the series for the Spurs, who won 13 more games than Denver during the regular season and entered the series as a heavy favorite.

San Antonio was beaten, 95-89, in Game One on Sunday as Duncan was held to 14 points, six below his regular-season average. Nuggets All-Stars Iverson and Anthony combined for 61 points to take away home-court advantage.

"We knew coming in here Denver was going to play well," San Antonio guard Michael Finley said. "They played well at our house, and we knew they were going to play exceptionally well in their house. They came out hard and we were able to sustain it."

The Spurs bounced back in Game Two, posting a tough 97-88 victory. The Nuggets had their chances in that contest but were not firing on all cylinders offensively.

The primary culprit was Iverson, the four-time scoring champion who normally enters the paint at will and gets to the free-throw line. But he attempted no foul shots and needed 25 shots to score 20 points.

Iverson again struggled from the field Saturday, nailing 7-of-20 shots and 6-of-9 foul shots en route to scoring 20 points. But he wants to put these performances behind him and focus on Monday's Game Four.

"Just thinking about the next game," Iverson said. "Get this one out of our heads and concentrate on the next one. That's the only thing we can do. They got their home-court advantage back, and it is important for us to come in here Monday and try to tie the series."

Anthony kept the Nuggets in the game, scoring 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds.

"I knew the Spurs weren't going to give me nothing easy," Anthony said. "I knew they were going to double-team and triple-team me, and getting on the boards, I can get out in the open court and get some offensive rebounds, get some easy ones and get myself going."

Denver again showed its frustration toward San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili, who was booed each time he touched the ball early in the game. Nuggets fans have labeled the Argentine star as a flopper who tries to bait foul calls from the referees.

Denver guard J.R. Smith even committed a flagrant foul on Ginobili, who was tackled driving to the basket in the first minute of the fourth quarter.


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