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Parker sparks 15-6 third-quarter run

2/29/2004

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- So far so good for the San Antonio Spurs
without Tim Duncan.

With the injured star watching from the bench, Tony Parker
scored 29 points and Kevin Willis added 17 -- season highs for both
players -- and the Spurs beat the Denver Nuggets 117-92 on Saturday
night.

Carmelo Anthony, Denver's standout rookie, lamented that his
team didn't take advantage of Duncan's absence.

"When the players hear that the key player on the other team is
out, they just tend to relax or take the opportunity for granted,"
said Anthony, who led the Nuggets with 26 points, 20 in the first
half.

Willis, on the other hand, did take advantage of his 14 minutes
filling in for Duncan. It was his longest outing since November.

"That's part of being a professional," said Willis, who did
not play in seven of San Antonio's previous 12 games. "I don't
know when my name will be called, but I have to be ready when it is
called."

Duncan was placed on the injured list Saturday, two days after
he hurt his leg in a loss to Dallas. He is averaging a team-leading
23.2 points and 13 rebounds in 54 games.

The team says Duncan has an irritation of the left
patellofemoral joint, where the thigh bone meets the knee. His
condition will be reevaluated next week.

The Nuggets never led in the game, but they played San Antonio
close for nearly three quarters.

A pair of free throws by Anthony made the score 66-62 with 4:54
remaining in the third. Parker then keyed a 15-6 run with a pair of
3-pointers to break the game open. Parker made three 3-pointers in
the third, and finished 4-for-4 behind the arc.

San Antonio's defense frustrated Denver in the fourth, limiting
the Nuggets to only six field goals. The Spurs scored 64 points in
the second half.

"I didn't think we could score that many points if we were
locked in a gym with nobody guarding us," quipped San Antonio
coach Gregg Popovich.

Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik scorched his team for putting out a
poor effort.

"We were feeling sorry for ourselves, I guess, from the other
night," he said, referring to the Nuggets' 112-111 loss to the Los
Angeles Lakers on Wednesday in a game in which an official made a
bad call against Denver at the end.

"We gave up 68 points in the paint, which shows no defensive
effort whatsoever," Bzdelik continued. "We were awful
defensively, and we were very selfish and random offensively."

Rasho Nesterovic had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs,
while Malik Rose had 17 points and Hedo Turkoglu 12.

Earl Boykins contributed 15 points and Jon Barry and Rodney
White each had 10 for the Nuggets.

Without its first option on the floor, San Antonio spread out
its offense and pushed the ball in transition from the start.

"Pop asked us to be very aggressive with the ball," Parker
said. "We just tried to run with them and tried to get some easy
baskets."

A 15-footer by Nesterovic gave the Spurs a 19-9 lead late in the
first before Anthony found his range. He scored 12 of his 14
first-quarter points late in the period as Denver cut the Spurs'
lead to five.

Boykins made his first five shots in the second, including a
3-pointer that pulled the Nuggets to 46-45 with 2:59 left in the
half. He had 14 points in the second.

The Spurs ended the period with a 7-2 run capped by Ginobili
penetrating and feeding Nesterovic for a dunk with 3.9 seconds
remaining.<
^Notes:@The Spurs record without Duncan in lineup is 2-3 this season
and 8-11 in his seven-year career. ... Jason Hart, activated Friday
after San Antonio released Ron Mercer, scored two points in four
minutes. ... A third-quarter jumper by Anthony made him Denver's
all-time rookie scoring leader. He broke the record of 1,205 points
set by Laphonso Ellis in 1992-93. ... Anthony is averaging 27.3 ppg
in 11 games in February.