After watching as the Denver Nuggets launched and hit rainbow after rainbow from 3-point range Tuesday night, including three from a player making his season debut, the Spurs concocted a simple game plan heading into the fourth quarter.

“You just hope they cool down a bit,” Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. “Or something else happens.”

The Nuggets indeed cooled down from distance. The “something else” came as the Spurs finally remembered how to make shots of their own.

The result was a satisfying come-from-behind, 102-94 victory at the Pepsi Center won down the stretch of a 48-minute slog played at mile-high altitude.

Tony Parker scored 24 points with six assists, Duncan added 17 points and eight rebounds with eight assists and four blocks despite a slow shooting start, and the Spurs outscored Denver 30-16 to win the game at the finish line.

Having hit 9 of 15 3-pointers to start the game, including 3 of 3 from University of Texas alum Jordan Hamilton in his first start and appearance of the season, the Nuggets missed all four of attempts from distance in the fourth.

Ty Lawson had 20 points and nine assists as Denver led by as many as 13 points, for all of the third quarter and into the fourth.

The Spurs (3-1) pulled ahead on Tiago Splitter’s 3-point play off a feed from Manu Ginobili with 9:06 to go, then grabbed the game down the stretch.

“An NBA game last forever – it’s 48 minutes and all kinds of crap happens,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We know that better than anybody, if you think back to the Finals.”

Kawhi Leonard added 14 points, turning a key steal from Lawson into a dunk for a 10-point lead for the Spurs with 2:20 to go.

It was an important early-season victory for the Spurs, who won two of three on their road trip and now return to the AT&T Center to face Phoenix on Wednesday.

With the loss, the Nuggets fell to 0-3, missing out on another chance to give coach Brian Shaw his first NBA victory.

Shaw admitted it would have been sweet to break through against the defending Western Conference champions.

“They make you pay for the mistakes you make,” said Shaw, who took over for George Karl over the offseason. “They’re experienced. They’ve been through the wars. They can play every style you throw at them and play it well.”

Citing a preference for focusing on his own team so early in a season, Popovich arrived at shootaround Tuesday morning having screened much tape of the new-look Nuggets.

“I already know what I need to know,” Popovich said. “They’re aggressive. They run. They dunk. They’re athletic. They’re active. You’ve got to come to play or get killed.”

For much of the first half, the Spurs seemed poised to turn the Pepsi Center into their own personal killing field. The Nuggets took it to them. The Spurs played on their heels.

With newly reinstalled starter Kenneth Faried supplying the energy, the Nuggets ran and dunked as Popovich predicted they would.