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Ginobili leads Spurs to highest score of season in win

The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- Let the NBA be warned: Manu has his swag back, even if he's not sure what that means.

The Spurs' blistering showtime offense that was on display most of last season was back, with Manu Ginobili leading the way as the Spurs beat the slumping Nuggets 126-100 at the AT&T Center on Saturday night.

The Nuggets hung on for a while, trailing only 16-13 with just over four minutes left in the first before the Spurs were able to break free for a 32-point lead early in the second quarter. They were never really challenged the rest of the game, with 47 of their field goals coming off 33 assists.

Ginobili scored a game-high 20 points off the bench. After the game, Spurs forward Stephen Jackson said Ginobili got his "swag" back. The Argentinian Ginobili didn't know exactly how to respond.

"I'm still trying to understand what 'swag' means," Ginobili joked. "But today everything went really good. The effort was great and the execution was impressive. But I'm very happy that I had a good game. I needed it."

The Spurs needed it too after a heartbreaking 104-100 loss to the Knicks on Thursday. Denver also could have used the victory, losing its own heartbreaker Thursday to the Heat, 98-83 at home.

"We did a great job of finding the open man, hitting someone with a little bit of a better shot," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "The ball movement was great and it allowed us to score. It was a great response after a tough loss against New York."

Danilo Gallinari led the Nuggets, who have now lost three games in a row, with 15 points. Denver, which has not shot the ball well this season, shot 50 percent after a slow start, but defense was the culprit tonight.

Kenneth Faried, last week's Western Conference Player of the Week, started slow but finished with 14 points. He had just five rebounds after claiming a career-high 20 boards just two days earlier.

Nuggets coach George Karl had some harsh words for his team afterward.

"We were playing a little immature tonight," he said. "It kind of looked like the old guys at the rec center playing with the young guys. They were playing smarter, faster, better and tougher. I think San Antonio would have beaten any team tonight by the way they played with their ball movement and shooting."

Ginobili broke out of the shooting slump that has plagued him this season (37 percent, including only 4-of-24 from 3-point land) by going 5 of 7 from deep and dishing out four assists. It helps that the back problems that have plagued him recently have subsided a bit.

"I'm improving," Ginobili said. "I had a couple of tough weeks where it was bothering me, but bothering me in my head too. Now I think I'm getting over it."

He had plenty of help. Danny Green scored 15, hitting 3 of 5 3-pointers, and DeJuan Blair, who started at center for the second consecutive game, scored a season-high 19 points.

San Antonio actually shot better from long range -- 16 of 27 (59 percent) -- than it did overall -- 47 of 88 (53 percent). The 126 points were also a season high for the Spurs, as were the 16 3-pointers.

Tim Duncan (14 points) got the Spurs crowd on its feet with a baseline 3-pointer off a Tony Parker pass to end the first half.

The jovial mood of the crowd carried over to the second half and continued in the locker room with Ginobili when he was asked about Duncan's long range shooting.

"I don't know what the heck he was doing out there," he said. "He should have been close to the rim."

Should that play be in the playbook?

"No," he said. "Definitely, please not."

NOTES: Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (left knee tendinitis) and guard Gary Neal (laceration on right hand) both sat out. Stephen Jackson started in Leonard's place. ... The Spurs lead the series 100-62 but are 63-19 in San Antonio. ... The Nuggets are off to a 4-6 start, but don't blame the rebounding. They were leading the NBA with 50.7 rebounds and 16.4 offensive rebounds per game.
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