SAN ANTONIO, April 27 (Ticker) -- Tim Duncan looked a lot better. So did the rest of the San Antonio Spurs.

Duncan scored 18 of his 24 points in a huge first half as the Spurs cruised to a 104-76 victory over the Denver Nuggets that evened their Western Conference first-round series at one game each.

NBA TV highlights from
Nuggets-Spurs:
300k

News conference: 300k
The second-seeded Spurs changed their starting lineup and got a much better effort from Tony Parker as they overwhelmed the seventh-seeded Nuggets, who stole home-court advantage with a stunning win in Game One.

Duncan clearly was not himself in the opener. Still recovering from a sprained ankle, he made just 7-of 22 shots. His elevation and explosion were limited as he missed all seven of his shots in the final period.

This one was a different story. Duncan scored six points in the first period, when all of the Spurs displayed a crispness that had not been evident in Game One and raced to a 29-18 lead.

"(The ankle) felt pretty good," he said. "It gets a little fatigued throughout the game, but all in all, it feels pretty good. I hope it continues to improve."

There were dramatic differences other than Duncan. Parker, who was severely outplayed by Andre Miller in Game One, began with more purpose scored 12 of his 19 points in the opening period.

And Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, looking for more energy from his bench, sat down All-Star guard Manu Ginobili in favor of Brent Barry.

"I wanted the team to get some rhythm," Popovich said. "More than anything, it was just to get a different look off the bench."

"We all want to win every game so bad, we will do whatever it takes to get the win," Ginobili said. "I talked to Pop yesterday and I said to him that if you feel it would help us, then do it. I don't care, I only have one goal and that's to win a championship. I felt comfortable with it."

The move worked to perfection as Barry scored eight of his 16 points in the first quarter and Ginobili had 12 of his 17 points in the second period, when San Antonio turned it into a rout.

"Manu was able to come in and give us a spark off the bench," Barry said. "It is nice to go out and play and it doesn't matter whether I start or not. I just want to go out and contribute, whether that is a couple of minutes or more."

Rookie Beno Udrih added 10 points off the bench for the Spurs, who dominated in every category, shooting 48 percent (34-of-71) from the field, holding a 46-39 advantage on the glass and leading by as many as 33 points.

"It's embarrassing. Any loss like that is embarrassing," Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony said. "We just got to soak this one in and go home with a good attitude. We're going home for two games and we have to go home and take care of business."

The series shifts to Denver for Games Three and Four on Saturday and Monday. Since George Karl took over as coach, the Nuggets are 19-1 at home.

However, they are going to have to play better than this. The Nuggets shot just 36 percent (27-of-75), had no player with more than 12 points and were outscored, 18-2, on the fast break.

"I told them two days ago, it's not necessarily whether you win or lose, but how we responded to their fight and they did fight back," Karl said. "I just didn't think it would be that much of a separation. I didn't think my team quit, they fought hard. ... San Antonio is the best team in the NBA."

Parker made a 3-pointer and jumper and Barry added two free throws to give the Spurs a 23-10 lead with 4:16 left in the first quarter.

Ginobili scored 12 points and Duncan eight in a 24-4 run that extended the advantage to 60-28 with 1:37 remaining in the first half. Denver got no closer than 19 points thereafter.

"It was a great bounce-back game for us," Duncan said. "We had great focus out of the gate. I knew we'd respond in the right way after what we put up in the fourth quarter last game."