San Antonio 95, Denver 80

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 20 (AP) -- The San Antonio Spurs were happy to finally play at home again.

The Spurs returned home for the first time in more than three weeks on Tuesday night in a 95-80 win over Denver.

Tony Parker scored 17 points, Manu Ginobili added 14 and Tim Duncan had 12 during the Spurs' first home game since they went on a lengthy road trip, where they split their eight games.

"It was very important to establish not only a win here, but to come home and have a good game,'' Duncan said.

Not even the return of Allen Iverson could boost Denver. Iverson missed nine of the Nuggets' last 10 games before the All-Star break with a right ankle sprain. He scored nine points on Tuesday.

"The shots that I took, I know I can hit with my eyes closed,'' said Iverson, who went 3-of-11 from the field. "Maybe I should have closed them. I took 11 shots, and I thought I got 11 good looks.''

Iverson said his ankle bothered him on a couple of plays "but for the most part I was all right.

"Usually when I come back from injury, I have my rhythm back. I didn't today,'' he said.

Carmelo Anthony led Denver with 15 points, Nene had 13 and DerMarr Johnson had 11. Anthony and Iverson combined for just 24 points. Their previous low when playing together was 49.

"It's going to take some time,'' said Marcus Camby. "And those guys haven't had a lot of time together.''

It was the Spurs' third straight win. It was Denver's second loss in a row.

"I said all along I'm surprised we haven't already had one of these flat games with all the changes and all the craziness we've had,'' said Nuggets coach George Karl. "I would have thought we'd have already had one.''

Playing at home this season hasn't been as good to the Spurs as in the past. They've lost eight at home so far, one more than all of last season.

Still, after the road trip, which has brought the team more success in previous years, San Antonio's AT&T Center was a welcome sight.

"We've lost too many games in this building to start the season,'' Duncan said. "And to come out of the break and continue to win like we did the last two on the road and then win one at home does a lot of good here.''

After trailing for most of the first, the Spurs took a 25-21 lead into the second quarter. Parker helped them extend the lead scoring 10 of his points in the quarter. San Antonio led 49-38 at the break.

The Spurs broke the game open in the third quarter outscoring the Nuggets 30-10. Anthony and Iverson were just a combined 1-for-10 in the quarter as Denver had nine turnovers.

The Nuggets ended up with 20 turnovers for 26 points, while San Antonio had nine turnovers for 15 points.

The Nuggets rallied in the fourth, but it was too late as the Spurs improved to 36-18 on the season while Denver fell to .500 (26-26).

It's back on the road again for the Spurs, who take on the Hawks in Atlanta on Wednesday. The Nuggets play the Utah Jazz in Denver on Friday.

"The last thing we want to do is leave home again,'' Duncan said.

Notes: The Spurs beat the Nuggets in Denver on Jan. 10, 92-83. ... Denver will visit San Antonio again on April 18 for the teams' final regular season game. ... Denver's J.R. Smith left the game in the second quarter after hurting his left knee. The team said he would be examined in Denver on Wednesday. ... Matt Bonner played more than 12 minutes and had three points for the Spurs after sitting out since he tore his left MCL on Jan. 13.


Copyright 2006 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited