Even with LaMarcus Aldridge scoring 30 points and Kyle Anderson finishing with a career-high 18, the Spurs had to fight until the final buzzer before securing a 106-104 home victory against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.
The Nuggets (26-25) had a chance to win in the closing seconds but Will Barton's three-pointer bounced off the rim, leaving the Nuggets just short of a win for the second consecutive night. Barton missed another long shot in the final seconds of a 111-110 loss to Boston on Monday in Denver.
The Silver and Black (34-19) continue their five-game homestand Thursday night against Interstate 10 rival Houston. Tipoff is at 7.
Aldridge, who had 20 points at the half, got his 30 points on 14-of-23 shooting. Anderson hit 9 of 12 attempts in scoring his career-high 18 points. Pau Gasol also had 18 points and added eight rebounds.
"I just tried to play well," said Anderson, who has started for injured forward Kawhi Leonard for most of the season. "I tried to be effective, be a little more aggressive and get to the rim. That's all I can do is find guys when they're open."
Anderson made 9 of 12 shots, most of them on drives to the basket, and passed for five assists.
"Just trying to be creative, crafty," Anderson said. "That's how I've seen the game of basketball my whole life. Just try to use my smarts or a pump fake or double clutch. Whatever it is, just trying to find a way around it."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has talked time and again about Anderson's knack for getting to the basket despite his lack of speed.
"He's been slow forever," Popovich said. "He didn't just get slow and figure it out. That's why he knows how to do it because he knows he's not the fastest guy in the world, so that herky-jerky, high IQ really helps him."
Manu Ginobili, who buried 3 of 6 three-pointers, finished with 14 points and was the only other Spur scoring in double figures. Point guard Dejounte Murray went scoreless, but he finished with a game-high 13 rebounds. He also dished out seven assists.
The Silver and Black played well offensively, hitting 50 percent (46/92) of their shots and 9 of 24 attempts from beyond the arc. They moved the ball throughout the game, tying a season high with 33 assists on their 46 made field goals.
"Well, obviously, if you have 33 assists, the ball moved," Popovich said. "It was anybody's ballgame. We were fortunate in a couple of situations. They (Nuggets) did a great job. They're executing well. That young team has come leaps and bounds. Mike (Malone, Denver coach) does a great job with them, so it's a good win for us."
Murray liked the way the Spurs moved the ball.
"That's definitely the Spurs way," he said. "Sharing the ball, playing defense and just playing together and we came out with a great win."
The game started like one of those vintage Spurs-Nuggets ABA games, with the visitors scoring 15 of their first 17 points on five three-pointers. With Denver up 17-12, Gasol nailed back-to-back threes to give San Antonio a one-point lead. And so it went in a game that had 18 lead changes and seven ties.
After the first quarter ended 30-all, the Silver and Black outscored the Nuggets 30-25 in the second to take a 60-55 lead at intermission. Denver was up 81-80 going into the final period.
Ginobili scored San Antonio's final points on a 13-foot floater, putting the Spurs up 106-101 with 36.7 seconds left. After a timeout, Jamal Murray buried a three-pointer to make it a two-point game with 31.6 seconds remaining.
It got sticky for the Silver and Black when Green missed a 3-pointer from the corner with 11.8 seconds left and Nikola Jokic rebounded. The Nuggets eschewed going for the tie, and put the game in Barton's hands. He had time to line up a good shot, but just missed with 1.5 seconds remaining.
Murray and Gary Harris led Denver's scoring with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Led by Aldridge and Gasol, who combined for 34 points, the Spurs led 60-55 at halftime. Aldridge had one of the best halves of the season, scoring 20 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Gasol had 14 points, including two three-pointers, and six rebounds in the first two quarters.
The Spurs had little trouble scoring in the first half against the Nuggets, who had a No. 22 defensive rating going into the game. San Antonio shot 53.1 percent overall (26/49) and was 55.6 percent (5/9) from the three-point line.
But the Silver and Black had problems getting stops against Denver, which shot 45.8 percent (22/48) from the field. The Nuggets were 47.1 percent (8/17) from beyond the arc in the first half.
The Spurs had a 22-19 edge under the boards at the half and finished with eight turnovers in each half.
Up next for the Spurs: vs. Houston, Thursday, 7 p.m., AT&T Center