Spurs 96, Nuggets 91

DENVER (AP) - Tim Duncan had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker sliced their way through Denver's defense in a 96-91 victory over the Nuggets on Saturday night.

The Spurs took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Game 4 is Monday night at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets went just 23-18 during the season, the seventh-worst home record in franchise history.

Parker led San Antonio with 21 points and Ginobili added 19, but it was two old pros who put the game out of reach.

A flurry of 3-pointers from Robert Horry (10 points) and Michael Finley (16) allowed the Spurs to break away from the Nuggets late in the third quarter.

Finley started it off with a 3 that gave San Antonio a 64-62 lead.

After a jumper by Allen Iverson tied it, Ginobili sank two free throws, then Horry stole the ball from J.R. Smith under the basket and sank his own 3-pointer for a 69-64 lead.

The Nuggets, who got 28 points from Carmelo Anthony and 20 from Iverson, never recovered.

Iverson and Smith got tangled up going for a rebound and Finley raced downcourt for another 3 that made it 72-64 with 1:02 left in the quarter, forcing a timeout.

Horry then set up in the right corner and sank another 3-pointer to give San Antonio a 75-67 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Smith, in the game for his 3-point prowess, was whistled for a flagrant foul on Ginobili, whose two free throws made it 77-67.

The Nuggets trimmed their deficit to five points on several occasions and got within three in the final seconds, but a series of forced shots that clanged off the iron doomed Denver to another home loss and returned the home-court advantage to San Antonio, which lost Game 1 at home before winning the next two.

Horry's jumper with 42 seconds left made it 94-87, but Smith made a shot and 'Melo's layup with 7.8 seconds made it 94-91. Ginobili sank two free throws with 4.5 seconds left to ice it.

Iverson, who missed 16 of his 25 shots in Denver's Game 2 loss, was just 3-for-10 in the first half and finished 7-for-20. Nene added 18 points.

Nuggets center Marcus Camby accepted his award for Defensive Player of the Year in pregame ceremonies, then quickly tried his hand at offense, but was just 1-for-6 in the first quarter and committed an offensive foul on another drive to the basket.

The Spurs hit two clock-beating 3-pointers in the closing minutes of the first quarter to trim an early eight-point deficit to 25-22.

The first one was Parker's and came after Finley sank a free throw when Denver coach George Karl drew a rare technical from official Bob Delaney for leaving the coach's box while arguing for a call.

The Spurs took a 43-40 halftime lead after dictating another slow-paced game.

Although the Nuggets had gotten next to nothing offensively from reserves Smith, Eduardo Najera and Linas Kleiza in the first two games, Karl insisted he wasn't concerned.

"I've never coached a game thinking I need more bench points," Karl said before tip-off. "Now, after I've looked at the stat sheet, I've said, 'I didn't get much from my bench."'

He'll be saying that again, as the Nuggets' reserves were outscored by San Antonio's 33-12 -- with all of Denver's points coming from Smith.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)