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Spurs edge past Nuggets with fourth quarter assault

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Spurs edge past Nuggets with fourth quarter assault
A week after Manu Ginobili hit a leaning jumper with 4.2 seconds left, and then charged Carmelo Anthony with 0.4 seconds remaining to give the San Antonio Spurs a 113-112 win over the Denver Nuggets, the 6ft 6in guard was at it again on Wednesday night.
Ginobili poured 22 points including the game turning triple pointer late in the fourth quarter, as the San Antonio Spurs romped to their 10th win in a row.
Although Denver were playing without Carmelo Anthony, who departed due to the death of his sister, they put up valiant fight. After an evenly contested first half, the Nuggets offence was simply unstoppable in the third quarter of play. They pushed the ball
deep into the court, and all the Spurs defensive Manoeuvres were nullified, as the Broncho’s drove it right to their throats.
After witnessing his team being mauled by Denver's ferocious attack, Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich finally made an inspired move in the final quarter.  The Spurs switched to a zonal defensive strategy, which squeezed the life out of the Denver forward line.
The Nuggets shooting literally froze in the final 12 minutes, as they only made 4-of-24 from the field, and also missed all nine of their long range efforts.
Their offensive woes also affected the confidence of the Nuggets defence, as they left way too many shots uncontested, allowing the Spurs to pull away with the match.
First half
Following the tip-off the match swayed from one end to the other, as neither team was willing to hand over the initial momentum. In a tipsy-turvy first quarter the Nuggets had the final laugh though, as Chris Andersen found the net on two consecutive attempts
to carve out a 27-26 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.
The Spurs though came out flying in the second period, as they launched a 12-5 run, racing away to a 38-32 early lead. The Nuggets countered with a string of lay-up shots, but Gary Neal ripped in two consecutive three pointers from the other end to keep
their progress under check.
The Spurs led by 47-42 with little under five minutes of play left until the midway mark, when the Nuggets finally managed to sneak ahead as they initiated a 6 point spurt. The surge was short-lived though, as the Spurs sprung back to take a 59-56 lead into
the break.
Second Half
The teams entered the second half, and J.R. Smith turned the heat on for the Nuggets. He took the game by the scruff of the neck, as he pounded 16 points in the third quarter, which included a barrage of pin-pointers from downtown. His endeavours meant that
the Nuggets took a nine-point advantage into the final 12 minutes.
The Spurs opened the fourth quarter with Manu Ginobili surrounded by Neal, Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter and Chris Quinn. To complement that, the Spurs covered the zones to counter the free-shooting of Smith, and the moves paid off big time, as they reeled
off a 20-8 run to surpass the Nuggets advantage midway through the fourth quarter. Denver though made good on four charity throws to restore a two point advantage.
At that point Ginobili stepped up to the party, as he nailed a go-ahead three pointer with under three minutes remaining, and the Spurs never looked back. The match finished 109-103, as the Spurs got their winning streak into double figures.
Six San Antonio players got into the double figures as well, with Ginobili and Gary Neal leading the way with 22 points apiece, as they shot at 52.6 percent. For the Nuggets, Smith and Ty Lawson also top scored with 22 each but a fourth quarter slump reduced
them to a 44.9 percent shooting, as they continue their poor away form.
After the match an overjoyed Manu Ginobili said, "It was a huge fourth quarter," he said. "I'm still kind of in shock by the way we won it."

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