SAN ANTONIO (AP) They stunned the Spurs in San Antonio with a Game 1 win, then dropped the next three in their first-round series.
The Denver Nuggets have seen this movie before. And they know how it ends.
Back in 2005, the Spurs lost home court advantage to Denver right off the bat. Down 0-1, they went on a rampage, beating the Nuggets in the next four games on their way to the second round and, eventually, the NBA championship.
Now, two years later, Denver is sitting by as a virtual repeat unfolds. Even though the wins haven't come as easily for San Antonio this time around, the results are so far the same.
``We have to win the next game, that's it,'' Denver's Allen Iverson said after the Nuggets' 96-89 loss to the Spurs on Monday night. ``We have to have it.''
Iverson wasn't around in 2005 he was acquired by Denver in December but coach George Karl was. After being hired midseason, Karl orchestrated an impressive turnaround for the Nuggets, who went 32-8 under his lead after notching a 17-25 record before he came. They went 10-2 that April.
The Nuggets similarly surged this year as the Iverson-Carmelo Anthony duo finally came together. They had a 10-1 April record as they secured the No. 6 seed.
Despite the uncanny similarities to two seasons ago, they insist they're not necessarily fated for a repeat disappointment.
``Losing three games straight, two at home, you know everybody is going to be disappointed and down,'' Anthony said. ``I try to tell everybody it really ain't over. Anything can happen.''
Game 5 is Wednesday in San Antonio.
``The odds, everybody is going to say it's against us,'' Karl said. ``We just have to win one game.''
And another, and then another, if they want to send third-seeded San Antonio packing.
Marcus Camby said on Tuesday that Karl made them believe it can happen.
``Our spirits are definitely high. We feel that this team isn't that much better than us,'' he said. ``It's not like we've been getting blown out of these ball games. Each ball game can be flip-flopped a little bit and it could be in our favor. So, we still feel confident, we still feel good. But somehow, some way we've got to come away with a win tomorrow.''
Camby said that might be easier than playing at home, where Denver logged a 23-18 record.
``We feel we're a better road team. So, hopefully, that can come into play tomorrow,'' he said.
Monday's Spurs win came off of Robert Horry's 3-pointer with 30 seconds to go. The Spurs' two previous victories in the series were a 96-91 victory in Denver and a 97-88 win in San Antonio. Denver won the first game 95-89.
``It was another game just like the three previous ones,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Monday. ``We feel very fortunate to get out of there with a victory against a hell of a team.''
After losing Game 1 93-87 in 2005, the Spurs hammered Denver 104-76 in Game 2 and won Game 3 by eight. Game 4 went to overtime as the Spurs won by 11, and San Antonio finished the series with a 99-89 win in Game 5.
``The experience we're going through is good for us,'' Karl said. ``The energy, the intensity, the understanding how hard it is to win a playoff game. All that has been good for us. It doesn't feel good now. In time, it will be good for us.''
In the meantime, the Nuggets are desperately looking to write an alternate ending for themselves.
AP Sports Writers Arnie Stapleton and Pat Graham contributed to this report from Denver.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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