The San Antonio Spurs' lengthy winning streak came to an abrupt end as coach Gregg Popovich gave two of his best players the night off.
Denver Nuggets coach George Karl can't wait to get some of his top players back in the lineup.
With Tim Duncan and Tony Parker expected to return to the starting five on Thursday night, San Antonio will cap off its annual rodeo trip trying to head into the All-Star break on a positive note as it faces the banged-up Nuggets.
Winners of an NBA season-high 11 consecutive games, the Southwest Division-leading Spurs (23-10) were routed 137-97 by Portland on Tuesday. Duncan and Parker watched from the bench because Popovich wanted his two veterans to get some rest during a stretch of three games in four nights.
The result was the Spurs' most lopsided defeat since a 111-69 loss at Chicago on March 5, 1997. San Antonio is still second in the Western Conference, three games behind Oklahoma City.
"One loss isn't going to do anything to us so we're just going to keep moving on,'' rookie swingman Kawhi Leonard said Tuesday after posting team highs with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
The Spurs conclude their nine-game trip with their lone visit to Denver. San Antonio will be without Manu Ginobili (oblique) and Tiago Splitter (calf), who are both expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks.
The Nuggets (18-16) have their own injury concerns.
With leading scorer Danilo Gallinari out the last nine games with a sprained left ankle and not expected back until after the break, Denver could also be without point guard Ty Lawson (sprained left ankle), forward Nene (strained calf) and backup swingman Rudy Fernandez (strained lower back) on Thursday.
The trio did not play Wednesday when Denver lost for the 11th time in 15 games, 103-95 to the Los Angeles Clippers.
"We had a lot of young guys out there, and (Clippers guard Chris Paul) found a lot of easy shots and made them," Karl said of the All-Star scoring 36 points against his team.
Trying to win their third straight at home before the All-Star break, the injury-riddled Nuggets could use continued production from rookie forwards Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hamilton. Faried is scoring 10.8 points per game with 7.8 rebounds over the last six contests, while Hamilton posted season highs with 18 points and seven boards at Los Angeles.
Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo is averaging 22.3 points over the last three games. He finished with 12 in a 121-117 loss at San Antonio on Jan. 7.
Spurs swingman Danny Green scored a career-best 24 in that contest, while Parker and Richard Jefferson added 19 apiece in the Spurs' best offensive performance of the season.
The Nuggets shot 56.8 percent as Gallinari had 31 points and Lawson added 20 and 10 assists.
It was the highest-scoring regular-season contest between the former ABA teams since a 131-111 Spurs home win on April 22, 1993.
San Antonio has surrendered 100 or more points in a season-high four consecutive games, but the Nuggets have hit 40.2 percent of their shots in each of the last two games after failing to convert a field goal in the final 7:26 on Wednesday.
Denver won 115-112 in the Spurs' last visit to the Mile High City on March 23, snapping a three-game home losing streak and five-game overall skid to San Antonio.
- San Antonio
- San Antonio Spurs
- Denver Nuggets
- The Nuggets