DENVER (AP) -- Junior Harrington left an impression on his coach at the morning shootaround, and he left one on the Spurs in the evening, too.
Harrington hit a 20-foot jump shot with 8.5 seconds left and preserved the win with a steal as the Denver Nuggets ended a six-game losing streak to the San Antonio Spurs, winning 85-81 Tuesday night.
"When I came to shootaround at 9:20 this morning he was out there shooting by himself -- and the lights weren't on,'' Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "I asked him to shoot the lights out then and he did.''
Juwan Howard and James Posey had 23 points each for the Nuggets,
who hadn't beaten San Antonio since Dec. 14, 2000. Denver has its
first three-game winning streak of the season.
"I've been struggling with my shot and Posey came in early to the gym and worked out,'' said Harrington, who had six points on 3-for-5 shooting. "Coach told me if I had an open shot to take it and I did.''
Tim Duncan had 18 points on 6-for-20 shooting, scoring only four
points in the fourth quarter.
Harrington, who scored only six points, tied the game at 81 with a jumper with 51 seconds left. Emanuel Ginobili missed a 3-pointer from the corner before Harrington made a shot from the top of the key.
"They brought a lot of energy to the game and played with a lot
of passion and a big-time desire to win,'' San Antonio coach Gregg
Popovich said. "They weren't intimidated a lick. All they wanted
to do was come out and win.''
The Spurs appeared to have the game under control after two free
throws by Duncan put them ahead 79-70 with 4:37 left. Posey's
3-pointer began a 9-0 run.
Duncan's two free throws with 1:11 left gave San Antonio its last lead, 81-79.
"We started off sluggishly, and the way we played the first
half, we didn't think we should have won,'' said David Robinson,
"But the second half we started off great, got our game going a
little bit and in the fourth quarter we just made a lot of
Smith and Bowen scored five points each in a 10-1 run to extend
San Antonio's lead to 57-42 four minutes into the third quarter.
The Nuggets picked up the tempo, Posey made five free throws and
Denver closed to 64-59 with 30 seconds left in the quarter.
The Spurs had a lackluster start, missing their first six shots and making only five of 18 shots in the first quarter. Denver wasn't much better, shooting 39 percent, but led 21-16 after Nene Hilario's hook shot at the buzzer.
San Antonio heated up in the second quarter, shooting 77 percent in the period beginning with Bowen's jumper and a layup and free throw by Ginobili to tie the game at 21. Steve Smith, 3-for-3 in the quarter, scored seven points in the last 3:38 of the half to put San Antonio ahead 47-41.
"Our guys have been playing with a lot of courage and guts,''
Bzdelik said. "They respond every time they are challenged.''
The two teams meet again Wednesday in San Antonio. ... San
Antonio swept the season series a year ago. ... Duncan left the arena without responding to questions. ... Bruce Bowen and Donnell Harvey were assessed double technical fouls in the second quarter. ... Denver is considering activating point guard Chris Whitney before Friday's game with Golden State. Whitney has missed four games with a sprained left ankle. ... Denver has held opponents
below 20 points in 27 of 44 quarters.