DENVER (AP)—San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich knew how to break Tim Duncan out of his slump.
“Pop moved me around a little more,” said Duncan, who had 23 points and 27 rebounds combined in his previous two games. “It gave me the opportunity to move around the floor and not just stand in one place and get banged on.”
Duncan had 30 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and the Spurs won for the 14th time in 15 games, beating the Denver Nuggets 98-74 Monday night.
“The move got me setting myself better,” Duncan said. “I was getting to different spots on the floor where I am feeling more comfortable.”
Duncan shot 10-for-15 from the field in recording his 28th double-double of the season and the 373rd of his career, the most of any player since the beginning of the 1998-99 season.
“I thought Tony had his energy back,” Popovich said. “Tony hit a wall because the summer time finally caught up with him.”
“The effort and the defense has been so inconsistent as of late and it’s disturbing,” Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “The effort and defense should be a constant and right now it is inconsistent. I don’t know why.”
The Spurs took control of the game early and were up by 21 a few minutes into the second half. Denver stayed within 16 points for much of the third quarter but never threatened San Antonio’s lead.
“We finally nailed it down toward the end of the first quarter and into the second as far as getting back in transition and trying to make stops,” Popovich said. “That is what we have to do to win. We are not that great offensively, but if we get those stops we are a better team.”
Duncan started fast, hitting five of six shots and scoring 14 points to help the Spurs to a 32-22 lead after one quarter. San Antonio led 56-37 at halftime.
Carmelo Anthony had nine points and failed to reach double figures for only the third time this year. The rookie played 24 minutes, but wasn’t on the court in the fourth quarter.
“I can’t hang my head after a game like this,” Anthony said. “It was thecoach’s decision not for me to play and I can’t argue with that.”
San Antonio placed guard Manu Ginobili, the team’s third-leading scorer, on the injured list Monday, with an injured back. The team activated rookie guard Alex Garcia. … Duncan had 17 points in the first meeting between the teams on 7-for-22 shooting. … Bzdelik slammed the scorer’s table after Lenard threw up an airball with 15 seconds on the shot clock during one possession. … Denver had won two of the past three meetings at home against the Spurs…. The Nuggets have been outrebounded in 10 straight games.