SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 22 (Ticker) -- Earl Boykins came up huge in a big road win for the Denver Nuggets.

Boykins scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Nuggets captured an 89-85 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in a matchup of two first-place teams.

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The top team in the Northwest Division, Denver took advantage of the absence of San Antonio All-Star guard Manu Ginobili for just its third win in 18 games here since the start of the 1997-98 season.

"Our team has responded great," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "They had a confidence this morning. They were just fed up with playing so many close games against this team and not winning.

Ginobili, who averages 15.4 points, was sidelined with a sprained his right ankle in Friday's win at Miami. He is expected to be out of action for several games.

"Manu being out hurts us," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "Before he went down we were starting to establish our roles. We just have to do our best until he gets back."

With the Nuggets clinging to a 75-73 lead with less than 7 1/2 minutes remaining, the 5-5 Boykins hit a jumper, rebounded a miss by Michael Finley and found Francisco Elson in transition for a jumper and a 79-73 advantage with 6:44 to play.

"We were holding them to one shot defensively there in the fourth," Boykins said. "They're a great offensive rebounding team and we were able to run today and that was the difference in the game."

The Spurs, who entered the game with the most home wins in the league (19-2), rallied as Nick Van Exel's floater in the lane cut the deficit to 79-77 with 3:37 remaining.

After Elson missed a jumper, Van Exel missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer, compounding San Antonio's struggles from the arc. The Spurs finished 4-of-23 from long range.

Andre Miller pulled down the rebound and found a sprinting Elson, who beat Tim Duncan down the court for a fast-break dunk. Boykins followed with a runner in the lane for an 83-77 lead with 2:24 left.

"Andre Miller was great pushing the ball up the court," Elson said. "That last play against these guys, I saw there was two guys behind me and I took advantage of it and Andre saw me running and hit me for the easy two."

Bruce Bowen made a 3-pointer to halve the deficit. But Miller sank a baseline jumper with 1:33 to play, then ran down a loose ball off a missed free throw by Duncan and found Kenyon Martin for a two-handed dunk and an 89-83 edge with 57 seconds left.

The poor shooting by the Spurs helped the Nuggets to a 32-13 advantage in fast-break points.

"We just came out and took too many bad shots today," Bowen said. "Denver played a great game and got the win. The three wasn't falling for us and they got the ball out in transition."

"We didn't rebound and shot poorly from the perimeter, but we still had an opportunity to win the game if we had gotten back in transition," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We had a lot of great shots, but you've got to make some. You have to make shots to win basketball games and we didn't do that."

Carmelo Anthony made 12-of-15 free throws and scored 20 points for Denver. Miller chipped in 15, 10 assists and five steals.

"Every time we play San Antonio it's going to be a tough defensive game," said Anthony, who shot 4-of-19 from the field. "Whatever I get they're going to make it hard on me. I knew my shot wasn't going in from the outside, so I decided to keep going to the hole and get some fouls called and some easy baskets."

Duncan continued his recent offensive struggles, managing just 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting. He has been held below 20 points in five of his last six games.

"We doubled Tim tonight and I think we did a pretty good job at sticking to the plan," Anthony said.

Parker scored 13 points and Nazr Mohammed added season highs of 17 points and 12 rebounds for San Antonio, which dropped to 31-6 when holding an opponent under 100 points.

"Defensively, I thought we had a much better control of Parker and Duncan than we had in the past," Karl said. "I thought up in Denver, we didn't double-team as much. We kind of went to the double-team a lot more. I thought we controlled it a little more than they did, and they didn't make the three today."