The San Antonio Spurs didn't have David Robinson Saturday night, but they had Malik Rose and that was more than enough.
Rose scored 21 points and had a career-high 14 rebounds as the Spurs defeated the Denver Nuggets 106-87. The Spurs were without the services of Robinson, who missed the game with cervical back spasms that he suffered in Friday night's 121-98 win against Boston.
"I always expect to box out, do my job on the boards," said Rose. "When you have the two trees out there, they tend to get most of the rebounds. I try to help them as much as possible by keeping as many people off the boards as I can."
"Duncan is going to get his points and rebounds," said Denver coach Dan Issel, "but Malik made sure that his playing instead of David wasn't going to let them get beat. His play was really the difference."
Duncan agreed that Rose, who finished one point off his career high, was the difference.
"Malik Rose was incredible," said Duncan. "He went out there and was playing out of his mind. It's fun to see him play like that. He works so hard and, when things get rolling his way a little bit, it's a lot of fun."
With San Antonio only leading 69-66 after three quarters, Terry Porter scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Spurs pulled away from Denver. The loss snapped Denver's season-high four game winning streak.
Rose entered the game 1:46 into the first period and scored 10 points in the quarter.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Robinson's absence couldn't, and didn't, alter the Spurs' approach. With Rose coming through, it didn't have to.
"We are what we are and we have to play that way," said Popovich. "Malik was fantastic. Malik was magnificent. He worked off the ball, he worked with the ball, he rebounded and he played defense."
McDyess, who got into early foul trouble, and Mercer kept the Nuggets close in the first half as Denver trailed by seven at halftime.
"It's pretty frustrating," said McDyess. "It's happened in about three games now where I've had my second foul early and had to sit. It seems like I'm just helpless to my team."
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