NBA Game Summary - Denver at San Antonio
(Wednesday, December 22nd)
Final Score: San Antonio 109, Denver 103
San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) - Gary Neal scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to help the San Antonio Spurs edge the Denver Nuggets, 109-103, at AT&T Center.
Manu Ginobili scored 22 to go with six assists and Richard Jefferson added 16 points for the Spurs, who have won 10 in a row. Tim Duncan finished with nine points and nine rebounds in the victory, while Neal matched a career high in points.
"I think that (Neal) has been magnificent," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. "Not just because he's making shots, he rebounds, he sticks his nose in, he's trying to play good defense, he's learning more everyday and he's a coachable kid. He has really been a joy."
Ty Lawson and J.R. Smith both scored 22 and Chauncey Billups finished with 20 points for the Nuggets, who played without superstar Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony was excused from the game due to the death of his sister and is not expected to return to the team until after Christmas so that he can be with his family as they make funeral arrangements.
Michelle Anthony died Tuesday in Baltimore of what the team called a pre- existing medical condition.
With the Spurs down nine, 89-80, Matt Bonner's three opened up the fourth and ignited a 15-4 San Antonio run that extended to the middle of the quarter.
Lawson responded to Bonner's three with a running jump shot at 11:08, but after the teams went a combined 0-for-5 from the field, Chris Quinn netted a pullup jumper to trim the Spurs' deficit to 91-85 with 9:35 left.
Bonner hit another three and Tiago Splitter connected on a layup after Smith missed a three, getting San Antonio within 91-90. The teams traded baskets before Neal sank a long three to cap the run with 6:18 remaining, giving the Spurs a 95-93 lead.
The teams traded the lead later in the quarter, and after Ginobili connected on a three-pointer with 2:48 to go, the Spurs were up 102-101.
Neal widened the margin with a three and short jumper in the lane. Duncan put the Spurs ahead 108-101 with the back end of two from the line in the final minute.
Nene's layup with 42.8 seconds left caused the Spurs to call their final timeout.
Out of the break, Smith was called for a blocking foul and Ginobili made 1- of-2 from the line with 23.4 ticks left to account for the final margin, as Denver missed its final three shots.
"They shot the hell out of the ball," said Nuggets head coach George Karl. "I'm not sure the shots were defended, they didn't give up and we didn't get out there quick enough."
Ginobili made 3-of-4 from long range in the first quarter, but a balanced offense allowed the Nuggets to take a 27-26 lead. San Antonio rallied for a 59-56 lead at the half.
Smith scored 16 of the Nuggets' 33 points in the third quarter, when the Spurs shot 40 percent.
Denver has alternated wins and losses in its last seven contests...Both teams committed 13 turnovers...Nene finished with 13 points and Arron Afflalo scored 12 with 10 rebounds for Denver...San Antonio's George Hill missed the game due to a sprained right big toe...Splitter grabbed a career-high nine rebounds to go with 12 points. Bonner finished with 13 points and Tony Parker had 11 points and nine assists.
12/23 00:49:45 ET