With Carmelo Anthony out, the Denver Nuggets came up short in the fourth quarter and saw the San Antonio Spurs win 109-103. Leading 89-80 at the start of the final quarter, the Denver Nuggets scored only four points over the last 12 minutes of play. The San Antonio Spurs, though, put up 30 to win the game by six.
Nuggets' power forward Kenyon Martin, who returned from knee surgery, saw his first action of the season, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds in 17 minutes. Chris Andersen played for the first time in eight games and collected seven rebounds.
Chauncey Billups, who had missed the last week of play with an injured wrist, returned to the lineup and scored 20 points and made seven assists. He was a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line. Ty Lawson, who came off the bench with Billups' return, scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting (4-of-5 from the line).
Arron Afflalo put up a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) and J.R. Smith started in Melo's absence. He scored 22 points and grabbed seven boards.
But the Spurs had that touch throughout the game, making 14 three-pointers. Manu Ginobili, who scored 22 points, made 4 of 9 3-pointers, and off the bench Gary Neal made 5 of 7 behind the arc for 15 of his 22 points. Matt Bonner added three threes as well.
The San Antonio Spurs improved to 25-3 on the season. The Denver Nuggets fell to 16-11 and will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN at 6 p.m. MT.