Unfazed by trade rumors surrounding two of their star players, the Denver Nuggets have put together an impressive winning streak in the last week, routing their last three opponents by an average of 30.0 points.
They’ll need to continue to ignore the distractions if they hope to finally get a win against the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs look to win their 15th consecutive home game Sunday night when they go for their third win in as many tries this season against the Nuggets.
San Antonio (34-6) won both meetings with Denver (23-16) last month, and while rumors are heating up that the Nuggets could deal Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chauncey Billups(notes) to New Jersey this week, the Spurs were preparing Saturday as if both would be playing.
“As far as we’re concerned, rumors don’t really affect the way you prepare against the Denver Nuggets,” San Antonio’s Richard Jefferson(notes) said. “They’re a Carmelo-based team, and they have been since he’s been there.”
The Spurs have still won four straight over Denver, and Anthony’s career average of 20.6 points versus San Antonio is his lowest against any Western Conference opponent.
The Spurs are looking to win their 15th straight at home and sixth in a row overall. They opened a four-game homestand with a 101-89 victory over Dallas on Friday, as Tim Duncan(notes) finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes while DeJuan Blair(notes) and Tony Parker(notes) each scored 18 points.
San Antonio’s home winning streak is its longest since a 16-game run Dec. 11, 2004-Feb. 23, 2005, while the 40-game start is the best in franchise history and the best for any NBA team since Detroit went 35-5 to open the 2005-06 season.
“We’re just going to continue to play,” Duncan said. “It’s great to be out to this start and we wanted to get out to a fast start coming into this year. We want to be able to have home-court advantage if at all possible in the playoffs and everything else.”
The Nuggets may have their best chance to get a win against the Spurs after not being at full strength in the previous two meetings. Anthony missed a 109-103 loss Dec. 22 following the death of his sister, while Billups was out with a wrist injury for a 113-112 defeat six days earlier.
Denver comes in after closing a four-game homestand with blowout victories over Phoenix, Miami and Cleveland. Anthony had 12 points and nine rebounds in a 127-99 win over the Cavaliers on Saturday.
“We’re really locked in and tuned in to what’s going on right now,” said Billups, who scored 21 points and added eight assists. “This is what we’re capable of doing. I’m not saying win by 30 but playing well, playing together.”
Leading by 36 points late in the third quarter, Denver pulled most of its starters.
While speculation before the game was about whether it would be the final home game for Anthony and Billups with the Nuggets, who return to Denver on Wednesday to face Oklahoma City, Anthony said before the win that he hasn’t made up his mind about his future.
“Going to a bigger market and all that stuff is cool, but if I feel like I have a chance of winning a championship in Denver in the next five years, then I’ll sign the extension,” he said. “It really doesn’t matter. I just want to win.”
While the Nuggets are 5-12 on the road, they’ve won three of their last four at San Antonio, including both visits last season.