Spurs take command of Nuggets behind "Big Shot" Bob
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - "Big Shot" Bob planted his feet in the right corner and added another staple to his growing playoff legend. Robert Horry's three-pointer with 30 seconds left gave San Antonio the breathing room it needed in a 96-89 victory over Denver, pushing the Nuggets to the brink of elimination from the postseason.
Horry, who has made the second-most threes in playoff history behind Reggie Miller, hadn't attempted a three throughout his 17 minutes of action until taking the feed from Tony Parker and calmly placing the dagger in Denver's collective heart.
"He's been known to do that," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Horry. "I'm glad he's on our team. He's saved us several times."
The Nuggets will look to regroup and extend their season Wednesday night in Game 5 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
"If we don't think we can do it we shouldn't even go to San Antonio," Allen Iverson said of his team's 3-1 series hole. "We should just stay here. We've got to win one game at a time, concentrate on the next one."
It's there the Spurs will attempt to send two of the league's brightest stars packing. Iverson had 22 points and seven assists Monday night, but made just 9-of-25 from the floor. Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 29 points and Nene recorded 18 points and seven rebounds.
In the end, Tim Duncan made repeated clutch plays. The forward, swarmed by NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby and Nene throughout the contest, managed 22 points with 11 rebounds. Tony Parker totaled 15 points and Manu Ginobili added 18 points off the bench.
In what has become a common theme in this best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series, the Spurs bench dominated Denver's reserves. San Antonio's bench poured in 32 points to eight for the Nuggets.
Before Horry cemented San Antonio's victory with his signature shot, Denver looked to be on its way to evening the series.
After an Iverson reserve layup staked the Nuggets to an 83-79 lead with 5:25 on the clock, Duncan made 1-of-2 free throws and Parker's three-point play squared the contest with 4:25 remaining.
Anthony and Parker exchanged buckets, then Bruce Bowen converted a slam and Duncan again made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with 2:16 left.
Nene and Duncan each made a shot from in close to keep San Antonio's three- point edge, 90-87, but Nene stepped in front of a pass to the post on the Spurs' next possession, kicking off a 3-on-1 break that ended in Steve Blake's deep two-pointer off the secondary break with 38.4 ticks remaining.
That set the stage for another chapter in Horry's playoff success story. Parker penetrated before dishing the ball to Horry for the three-pointer.
"That's the thing I love about this team," Horry said. "We've got guys who can penetrate and they don't mind throwing to guys who are open."
Horry has appeared in the postseason in every one of his 15 NBA seasons. His team has never lost in the first round.
Ginobili and Michael Finley combined for three free throws in the final seconds for the Spurs.
Early in the game, Denver appeared to gain control. Leading 27-20 after the first stanza, the lead dwindled and eventually evaporated into a 38-37 Spurs' advantage on two Duncan free throws with 5:10 to play in the first half.
Denver responded and took a 50-42 lead into the locker room after Camby's slam with 22 ticks left.
The Nuggets had several nine-point leads, the last at 71-62, in the third quarter and held a 73-67 cushion at the end of 36 minutes.
San Antonio scored the first seven points of the fourth stanza to seize the edge. Ginobili tallied the final five with his three posting the Spurs to a 74-73 lead.
Denver made just 2-of-16 from beyond the arc...J.R. Smith, a 39 percent three- point shooter during the regular season, but 0-for-8 coming into Monday's Game 4, missed four more and hasn't made a three in the series...Camby had 10 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks in defeat.DEN SAN