DENVER (AP) -- Unable to come up with anything better to describe
Marcus Camby, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl blurted out the
first thing that came to mind: "Marcus Camby, he's really good."
Simplistic, but right on the mark.
Spurs without Duncan, last two seasons
Camby set the tone early and squashed a big run late, dominating
the lane at both ends to help the Nuggets beat the San Antonio
Spurs 102-84 on Friday night for their 16th victory in 18 games.
Camby finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, eight blocks and
five assists, but carried the Nuggets just as much with his hustle
Even San Antonio's Tony Parker kept it simple when describing
the Nuggets' center.
"Camby was really good tonight," said Parker, who led the
Spurs with 17 points.
Denver played without power forward Kenyon Martin (ribs) for the
third straight game, then lost guard Greg Buckner to a broken hand
in the second quarter.
But as they have over the past two months, the Nuggets shrugged
off the injuries.
Denver got out to a big lead early, held on through a difficult
third quarter, then pulled away to extend its best stretch since
going 15-2 in 1988.
Earl Boykins had 23 points, and Carmelo Anthony added 18 for
Denver, which has won seven straight home games to remain tied with
Memphis for seventh place in the Western Conference -- three games
ahead of ninth-place Minnesota.
"I don't know how good we are. I don't think anybody knows how
good we are," Karl said. "I'm getting confident, though."
San Antonio had won three straight without All-Star Tim Duncan
(ankle), but couldn't keep up with the energetic Nuggets. The Spurs
shot a season-low 31.8 percent and didn't have anything left after
making a big third-quarter run.
Manu Ginobili added 13 points, but had a hard time getting it.
He was knocked to the floor several times and shot just 1-of-8 from
the field. The Spurs trail Phoenix by just two games for the
league's best record, but certainly don't want to lose their second
All-Star with Duncan expected to be out another two weeks and six
of the final 10 games on the road.
"We are trying to get a couple of guys some playing time to see
what they can give us down the stretch, and at the same time we
don't want to run Manu into the ground," Spurs coach Gregg
Popovich said. "He is going to be very important come playoff
time. It's a double-edged sword. We want to win games, but I don't
want to do it at the expense of Manu Ginobili."
Karl complained about his team's defense the previous two games,
saying the Nuggets were soft and giving up too many easy baskets.
Apparently, the message got through.
The Nuggets swarmed the Spurs from the opening tip, contesting
every shot, pass and cut. Denver blocked 11 shots, set a season-low
for opponent shooting percentage and held the Spurs to 5-of-23 on
"Our defense, I thought the last two games we were soft a
little bit," said Karl, who wore a Nuggets' retro warmup over his
suit before tipoff. "I thought the team came out tonight and, wow,
they were really good defensively."
The Spurs didn't have an answer, particularly without Duncan for
the sixth straight game.
San Antonio had just six field goals and 14 points in the first
quarter to trail by 13, and wasn't a whole lot better in the
second. The Spurs shot just 37 percent and trailed by as much as 19
before cutting the lead to 50-38 by halftime.
But even without their best player, the Spurs didn't give up.
Picking up the defensive pressure and working the ball the
Ginobili on just about every possession, San Antonio went on a 13-2
run midway through the third quarter to cut the lead to 62-58.
"I thought we made a good run at it in the second half, but we
just didn't have enough juice and couldn't make that shot to get
over the hump," Popovich said.
Camby made sure of it. He blocked three shots in the quarter,
including two in the final minute to help the Nuggets the lead back
up to 73-62.
But then, it's no surprise.
Camby was superb against Phoenix and Utah after missing two
games with a sprained ankle and he simply kept it going against San
He was seemingly everywhere on defense, swatting three shots in
the first quarter, jumping into passing lanes and harassing anyone
who came near the basket. Camby helped force a turnover on San
Antonio's first possession, then knocked Ginobili to the ground
scrambling for a loose ball seconds later.
Camby also knocked down jumpers from the top of the key, hit a
difficult turnaround in the post and even went coast-to-coast for a
"Nothing he does amazes me," Anthony said. "He plays like a
defensive player of the year every night. He brings it every
Karl was selected the Western Conference coach of the month
for March to win the award for the second straight month. ... The
Spurs have lost five straight road games. ... Denver is 23-1 at
home when scoring at least 18 points (27) on the break. ... Buckner
is expected to be out at least two weeks.