THE FACTS: The Denver Nuggets' long winning streak has turned into a losing streak after Tim Duncan scored 23 points with 14 rebounds and San Antonio dominated the 3-point line in the Spurs' 100-99 victory on Wednesday at AT&T Center.
Even though the Spurs finished 10-for-15 from 3-point distance and the Nuggets failed to hit a 3-pointer, Denver still had a chance to win. After Duncan missed an open jump shot with 10 seconds to go, the Nuggets set up after a timeout and got a driving three-footer from Andre Miller. But his contested left-handed shot bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
The Nuggets, who have lost consecutive games after running off 15 wins in a row, got a 21-point, 11-rebound night in 26 minutes off the bench from JaVale McGee. He shot 10-for-11 with five of his rebounds on offense and had three blocks.
QUOTABLE: "It was huge (to beat Denver tonight) because we've got a lot of tough games. The Clippers, Miami and Memphis (are next on the schedule), so we need to take care of our homecourt advantage."
-- Tony Parker (18 points, 11 assists, 35 minutes) after the Spurs stayed 1 1/2 games ahead of Oklahoma City for the top seed in the West.
THE STAT: On a night when Denver again controlled the paint (the Nuggets led 68-36 in the lane) and was successful running the floor (16-9 advantage on the fastbreak), the Nuggets were outscored 30-0 from the 3-point line. For all the things the Nuggets do well on offense (third in the league in scoring), they are 24th in 3-point shooting percentage.
TURNING POINT: Manu Ginobili was struggling through another sub-par shooting performance when he entered the final two minutes of the game shooting 3-for-8 from the floor. But he was left open near the top of the key with a minute and a half to go when Kawhi Leonard drove the lane, and when Leonard kicked the ball back out Ginobili quickly put the ball in the air. He knocked it down and San Antonio was up by five with 1:26 to go. It was the last points San Antonio scored, and the Spurs held on despite Danilo Gallinari's four free throws in the final 1:10.
QUOTABLE II: "I've seen Andre (Miller) make that shot (at the final buzzer) a hundred times. But I'm not disappointed. When Gallinari hesitated (before passing to Miller) it took enough time off the clock where Andre didn't have much anything to do but attack aggressively."
-- Nuggets coach George Karl.
HOT: The Spurs just missed five of their 15 tries from the 3-point line, and Danny Green led the team with 6-for-8 shooting on 3-pointers. It's another sign of his streakiness. In the past three games he's gone 11-for-20 on 3-pointers. But in the two games before that Green was 1-for-6. Tonight, in fact, Green hit all of those 3-pointers in the first half (a franchise record for one half) and got only one try from the 3-point line after halftime.
NOT: Ty Lawson had trouble in his first game back since missing the last three games with a heel contusion. A 46-percent shooter from the floor this season, Lawson went 1-for-7 tonight in 19 ½ minutes.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: McGee's 21 points are a season high, and his 10-for-11 night was his best since going 9-for-9 while scoring his previous season-high of 20 points in December at Indiana.
ROOKIE WATCH: By playing an average of 10 minutes in the two games since Parker's return from injury, it looked like Nando De Colo was taking the role as backup point guard for the Spurs. But he did not play tonight while Cory Joseph was given 12 ½ minutes (five points, one assist, no turnovers) off the bench behind Parker (18 points, 11 assists).
NOTABLE: San Antonio struggled through 4-for-17 shooting in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs survived by hitting 8-for-11 from the foul line (Denver hit four foul shots in the fourth). ... Nuggets coach George Karl was called for a technical by Bennett Salvatore when Kenneth Faried was called for a shooting foul on Tiago Splitter with Denver leading by one with eight minutes to go. ... Parker sprained his right middle finger (shooting hand) on a layup try in the third quarter and went to the locker room to get attention from the team's training staff, but he quickly returned. ... Ginobili's streak of shooting less than 50 percent from the floor is now at nine games; he was 4-for-9 tonight. ... Spurs shooting guard Gary Neal, who has been battling a tight calf muscle and plantar fasciitis much of this season, missed his fourth-straight game.
UP NEXT: For the Nuggets, Friday vs. Brooklyn, Wednesday @ Utah, April 4 vs. Dallas. For the Spurs, Friday vs. L.A. Clippers, Sunday vs. Miami, Monday @ Memphis.