The San Antonio Spurs are picking up plenty of momentum as they draw closer to having the opportunity to defend their NBA title.
The Spurs will try to extend a season-high, 11-game winning streak Friday when they visit the Denver Nuggets in a matchup between one of the league’s top defenses and one of its best offenses.
The Spurs (43-17), who lead the West by a half-game over the Los Angeles Lakers, have not lost since a 98-90 defeat to Eastern Conference-leading Boston on Feb. 10.
San Antonio has held its opponents to an average of 87.1 points during the streak while outscoring them by 8.5 points per game. The 11-game run is their longest since they took 13 in a row from Feb. 13-March 13 last season.
San Antonio ranks third in the league with an average of 90.6 points allowed per game, but will be trying to slow down a Denver team that ranks fourth in the NBA with 107.6 points a contest. The Nuggets (36-24) have won three of four, averaging 124.7 points in those victories.
The teams have been fairly even in their last 11 regular-season meetings, with Denver winning six. However, the Spurs knocked the Nuggets out of the first round of last season’s playoffs in five games en route to their fourth championship in nine years.
The Spurs are coming off Thursday’s 108-97 victory over Indiana. Manu Ginobili had 28 points for San Antonio, which built enough of a lead to rest it starters late in the opener of a four-game, five-day stretch.
Indiana’s Mike Dunleavy was impressed with the defending champs.
“They’re just really solid,” he said. “They’ve got three great players. On any given night two of them are going to have very good nights. … They have their principles and stick to them.”
The Spurs scored - and yielded - their most points since a 100-99 win in Minnesota on Feb. 21.
The Nuggets, meanwhile, are in ninth place in the West, one game behind Golden State for the conference’s final playoff spot. They are coming off Wednesday’s 126-113 win over Phoenix.
“We’re not going to play 22 great games. I would like to play like the Rockies down the stretch, but I doubt we’re going to go 21-1 the rest of the way,” coach George Karl said, referring to Colorado’s remarkable run to the World Series in October.
“In March, if we put double-digit wins up, we’ll be OK. We’ll still be in the hunt. It’s one in 20 years, this type of thing. I’ve never seen it in the NBA, and every team is playing well.”
Carmelo Anthony had 30 points and 13 rebounds for Denver, and Allen Iverson chipped in 31 points and 12 assists. However, J.R. Smith’s 20 points off the bench might have been the most encouraging performance for the Nuggets, who are 24-7 at home.
“We’re going to need J.R. to play that way because he makes it so much easier for everybody else, for spacing the court out,” Iverson said.