DENVER (AP) Tim Duncan had to go to work while the rest of his starting cast took the night off.
Oh well, the San Antonio forward wasn't crying foul because he needed to polish a few things - his jumper, his shot blocking - with the postseason right around the corner.
With more shots to go around, Duncan finished with a season-high 21 points and the depleted Spurs lost 102-98 to Denver on Friday night, ending a 10-game winning streak against the Nuggets.
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''Turnovers down the stretch killed us, but good effort all around, and such is life,'' Duncan said. ''Everybody is ready to go.''
This was the closest thing the Nuggets will get to the playoffs in a season in which they're 33-47. Jusuf Nurkic scored a career-high 21 points, Gary Harris had two pivotal defensive plays in the waning seconds and Denver knocked off San Antonio for the first time since April 10, 2013.
And the Nuggets always have this: They're the only team this season to beat both Golden State and San Antonio.
''That's a pretty cool accomplishment,'' Harris said. ''But we still have a lot of ways to improve. I'm happy with the way everyone is progressing.''
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gave every starter except Duncan the night off following a loss at Golden State on Thursday. Duncan logged more than 34 minutes as the Spurs dropped two straight for the first time this season.
''Felt good to get some minutes, get some shots, get some touches,'' said Duncan, who played only 19 minutes against the Warriors.
Wanting to keep his regulars fresh and with the second seed in the Western Conference already secured, Popovich sat LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tony Parker. Manu Ginobili also was out along with Boris Diaw, who's dealing with a sore right adductor.
That was nearly 72 percent of their scoring on the bench. David West and Kevin Martin helped pick up the slack as each had 17 points.
Popovich was a coach of few words after the game, simply saying, ''I would have rather won,'' before leaving the scene.
Denver experimented with its lineup by starting twin towers Nikola Jokic (6-foot-10) and Nurkic (7-foot). It was effective as Jokic had eight points and 15 boards, while Nurkic also added nine rebounds.
''We have not practiced a lot together, haven't played a lot together,'' Nurkic said. ''Looks good.''
JaKarr Sampson came up big as he scored 14 of his 16 points in the third quarter, helping the Nuggets build a 10-point lead.
It wouldn't last as the Spurs stormed back to lead by four, 96-92, with 3:41 remaining. Denver tied it at 98 when West was whistled for goaltending on a jumper by Nurkic with 43.5 seconds remaining.
That's when Harris stepped up with his defense. He intercepted a pass and was fouled with 30.1 seconds left, making both free throws. Then he stole another pass and made a layup to seal the win and help Denver snap a three-game skid.
''We were all out there, trying to do whatever we could to stop them from scoring,'' Harris said.
Spurs: Duncan played in career game No. 1,391, tying him with Jason Kidd for seventh on the NBA's all-time list. ... Popovich said the dislocated right pinkie Aldridge suffered Thursday is doing fine. ... West tied a career high with five blocks.
Nuggets: Darrell Arthur was tending to a family matter and wasn't with the team. ''Hopefully, he'll be back as soon as possible,'' coach Michael Malone said. ... Malone is campaigning for Jokic and Emmanuel Mudiay to make the NBA's all-rookie squad. ... F Kenneth Faried got the night off.
Popovich plans to go with his regular rotation Sunday when the Spurs host the Warriors. Still, he's not enamored with the fact San Antonio has won 48 straight regular-season games at home dating to last season. He said the streak is ''absolutely meaningless'' to him.
''What does that get you if you're defeated? Does it win you anything? That's why it's meaningless,'' Popovich said. ''Maybe a cup of coffee or something. But that's about it.''
Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay spent most of the first quarter guarding 16-year veteran Andre Miller. Their age difference is nearly 20 years. Mudiay had 12 of his 20 points in the first quarter. Miller finished with eight points.
Spurs: Host Golden State on Sunday.
Nuggets: Host Utah on Sunday.