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Spurs stretch streak to 16, beat Nuggets by 31

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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DENVER — The Denver Nuggets put a scare in the San Antonio Spurs with a strong fourth quarter two days ago.

The Spurs took note, and in Friday’s rematch they never let up.

Guard Marco Belinelli scored 27 points, forward Tim Duncan had 20 and San Antonio extended its winning streak to 16 with a 133-102 victory over the Nuggets on Friday night.

The Spurs’ streak is the second longest in franchise history during the regular season. They won 17 straight in 1995-96.

Two years ago, San Antonio won the last 10 of the regular season and the first 10 of the playoffs before being eliminated by Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.

The Spurs’ last loss before the current streak came Feb. 21 in Phoenix at the end of a nine-game road trip.

Since then, they have rolled along, which does not always make coach Gregg Popovich happy.

“I don’t know if he likes them as much as everyone else does,” Duncan said. “He’s a teacher, he wants to teach. He wants the goods and the bads. Even through this streak he’s been on us a tremendous amount, making sure we don’t rest on the win but we’re learning.”

Forward Kenneth Faried had 18 points and 13 rebounds and guard Randy Foye scored 20 points for Denver, which lost four of its last five.

The loss also guaranteed the Nuggets their first non-winning season in 11 years.

“What is there to say? That was an embarrassing loss, just from every standpoint of the game,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “Defensively, body language, energy, just embarrassing, and it starts with me. They obviously have now a 16-game winning streak. I would think that we’d come out and try to fight harder to try to continue to play well at home.”

The Spurs are trying to maintain the No. 1 overall seed for the playoffs, although Popovich downplayed the importance of having home-court advantage throughout the postseason.

“It’s not crucial,” he said before tipoff. “No one would give it away if it’s there, but I’m not going to overplay people to get it. Teams that win championships win on the road.”

Popovich backed up his words by sitting guard Danny Green against Denver. Green, who is suffering from inflammation in his right foot, scored 16 points in a win over the Nuggets on Wednesday.

Denver, in contrast to the white-hot Spurs, is limping to the end of the season — literally. The Nuggets had only 10 healthy players for Friday’s game, their first after being eliminated from the postseason for the first time since 2002-03.

They played hard in Wednesday’s five-point loss in San Antonio, rallying from 24 points down to lose by five.

That comeback motivated San Antonio, which had 37 assists.

“It woke us up. We understood they weren’t going to quit from horn to horn,” Duncan said. “We kept our focus much better tonight. We didn’t have a period where we relaxed and let them back into the game.”

The Spurs did not miss Green — at least for this night. Belinelli moved into the starting lineup and scored 14 points in the first quarter. He hit four 3-pointers in the final 2:51 of the quarter as San Antonio went on a 17-3 win to take a 31-23 lead into the second quarter.

“It felt good for sure, but not just for me, but the team. They passed me the ball when I was open,” Belinelli said. “Like always, teamwork. We love to move the ball.

He had 20 points at halftime when the Spurs led 62-43 on 53 percent shooting from the field.

“We just let them do basically what they wanted to do,” Foye said. “We had more fight on their court last game than we did on our court tonight.”

San Antonio increased the lead to 27 in the third quarter before sitting most of its starters for a bulk of the fourth quarter. Still, the Spurs managed to reach a season high in points and shoot 56 percent from the field for the game while playing reserves.

NOTES: San Antonio C Tim Duncan played in his 1,246th NBA game on Friday night. He moved past Lakers G Kobe Bryant for fourth among players to play that many games with one team. He trails former Celtics great John Havlicek by 24 games for third place. John Stockton tops the list with 1,504 games, all with Utah. … Nuggets F Wilson Chandler sat out his fifth game in the last sixth with a left hip injury. He will consult with a doctor to determine whether he should be shut down for the final nine games of the season. … Spurs F/C Matt Bonner did not make the one-game road trip because of a right calf strain. He has missed five of his last six games because of the injury.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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