Ty Lawson had 23 points and nine assists and Kenneth Faried added 20 points and ten rebounds but the Denver Nuggets couldn’t quite keep up with a high-powered San Antonio Spurs offense, losing 120-111 Friday night in San Antonio.

Kawhi Leonard had 25 and Tony Parker scored 24 for San Antonio.

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades, but it sure feels like the Nuggets came away from this game with a moral victory. A few weeks ago, it would have been impossible to imagine Denver staying this close to the Spurs – Friday, six Nuggets were in double-figures, and it’s fair to say it was the most competitive, and entertaining, game Denver has played in a month.

It also would have been tough to picture the Nuggets playing this style of basketball. The Nuggets jacked 86 shots in this one, and the pace was up-and-down most of the evening. The difference was free throws (the Spurs shot ten more than the Nuggets) and turnovers (the Nuggets had 13 to San Antonio’s 8). The Spurs also finished with 8 blocks, three each from Leonard and Tim Duncan.

Still, the Nuggets got a spirited effort. Faried looked like a whole new man, doing what he does best – running the floor. Faried once again got the start at center, and when that happens, the Nuggets better be moving, because there’s no way Faried can defend the likes of Duncan or Tiago Splitter on the defense end. It’s a good sign that interim head coach Melvin Hunt wants Faried to just get the rock and go.

Hunt also got a good game from Lawson, who’s been struggling of late (and at this point, it’s fair to wonder just how healthy his ankle is after a huge minutes load most of the season). Lawson knows that Tony Parker can’t stay in front of him however, and he used it to good advantage throughout the evening (even if Lawson did go quiet for much of the second half, he made two key baskets down the stretch to keep the Nuggets in it late).

Denver will be right back at it with another opponent from Texas, the Houston Rockets, on deck at the Pepsi Center Saturday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. MT.

Zach Marburger is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BurchBurger.

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