Duncan will be sidelined for at least five games after he injured his left thigh during Thursday’s 115-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. A medical exam Friday determined that Duncan has an irritation of the patellofemoral joint, the area where the thigh bone meets the kneecap.
San Antonio placed the two-time MVP on the injured list on Saturday. He will be re-evaluated next week.
Duncan hobbled to the bench midway through the third quarter. At the time, San Antonio trailed by nine points before going on to its most lopsided loss of the season.
In 25 minutes, Duncan had 22 points and 17 rebounds. After the game his only comment was, “I don’t know what happened.”
Teammate Malik Rose said he and the other Spurs are prepared to step up if Duncan has to sit out a number of games to recuperate.
“Tim’s one of the toughest guys in the league,” Rose said. “He won’t miss much time, but in the meantime we have to be a collective Band-Aid for him.”
San Antonio is 21-5 against Denver since drafting Duncan with the top overall pick in 1997. The Spurs have won five straight in the series, but San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said it will be tough to beat anyone without Duncan on the court.
“Our team misses our superstar,” Popovich said. “He’s more important to us than a lot of other teams’ stars.”
Denver is hoping to snap a season-high four-game losing streak, including Wednesday’s controversial 112-111 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
With the Nuggets guarding a 111-109 lead, a shot by Denver’s Andre Miller appeared to brush the rim and barely beat the shot clock. Rookie Carmelo Anthony got the rebound for the Nuggets, but the whistle blew for a shot-clock violation.
The officials huddled and ruled it was an inadvertent whistle, resulting in a jump ball. The Lakers won the tip, leading to Kareem Rush’s winning 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left.
NBA senior vice president Stu Jackson said there shouldn’t have been a whistle on the play.
“That call was incorrect because the ball, in fact, hit the rim,” Jackson said. “This was an unfortunate call at a highly critical point in the game, and we very much regret the error.”
The National Basketball Referees Association said the league suspended referee Michael Henderson for three games and summoned him to New York for a meeting with league officials.
“It’s a shame the game ended like it did,” Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “They told me it was an inadvertent whistle and they felt bad. But they can walk away and they’re on to the next city. There is no `L’ or `W’ next to their names.”
STANDINGS (through Feb. 26): Nuggets - 6th place, 10 1/2 GB, Midwest Division. Spurs - 2nd place, 4 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Nuggets - Anthony, 20.1 ppg; Camby, 10.3 rpg; Miller, 6.2 apg. Spurs - Duncan, 23.2 ppg and 13.0 rpg; Parker, 5.3 apg.
SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 5; Spurs, 98-74. At Denver, Duncan had 30 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as San Antonio won for the 14th time in 15 games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Nuggets - 11-18 on the road; Spurs - 19-7 at home.