Spurs vs. Nuggets recap, reactions: Spurs hold off Nuggets in a thriller

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 30: LaMarcus Aldridge
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 30: LaMarcus Aldridge /

The San Antonio Spurs barely held off the Denver Nuggets at home, 106-104.

The San Antonio Spurs were able to hold off a late push by the Denver Nuggets, ultimately winning Tuesday nights contest 106-104. The Nuggets quickly bounced back from their tightly contested, one point loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday and gave the Spurs a scare tonight. From start to finish this game was a thriller. In the end, it was tight defense and precise ball movement, the hallmarks of Spurs basketball, that would secure the win for the Silver and Black.

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Right from the get-go San Antonio was moving the ball with a purpose. Passing up good shots for great ones has always been a point of emphasis in the Spurs offensive attack. That mindset was on display early. Everyone was moving the ball quickly. Over the course of an offensive possession, the Spurs were able to consistently beat the Nuggets rotations with their ball movement and generate open looks. They would assist on all thirteen of their first quarter buckets. Pau Gasol would find the bottom of the net on both of his three-point attempts in the first quarter. San Antonio would head into the second tied at 30. The close score after twelve minutes was an indication of what was to come.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before: LaMarcus Aldridge was the driving force of the San Antonio offense once again. Aldridge continued his impressive season with another 30 point performance tonight. Watching Aldridge this year compared to last year has really been like night and day. He would rack up 20 of his points in the first half on a diet of pick-and-pops, running jump hooks, and turnaround jumpers. Kyle Anderson and Pau would both contribute 18 points of their own. SlowMo set a new career night with his 18 points, while also adding 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

The second quarter would also give Spurs fans with one of the most mind-boggling passes I’ve ever seen Manu Ginobili pull off. He has always been one to push the envelope with his creativity. This pass was no different.

HOW MANU HOW?! pic.twitter.com/Z8P3VHOPFk

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 31, 2018

Different angle but we're still wondering HOW?! #ManuGonnaManu pic.twitter.com/UfR7Lk8xIQ

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 31, 2018

When Manu is inevitably inducted into the Hall of Fame I hope that pass is part of the highlight reel. The Spurs would go into the locker room with a five-point lead.

The Nuggets would fight back in the third. They were led by one of the most creative big men in the league, Nikola Jokic. Jokic is what I imagine Kyle Anderson would be like if he was taller. Slow yet incredibly creative, with a herky-jerky style of play that catches defenders off guard. Jokic is well known for his passing ability, he’s averaging 5.3 assists per game right now. He would tally 8 tonight to go along with 13 points and 7 rebounds. His contributions, along with Jamal Murray‘s, helped the Nuggets take the lead by the end of the third quarter.

The Nugget’s Murray would be countered by the Spurs’ Murray as the game went along. Tonight Dejounte proved that he doesn’t need to score in order to have an impact on the game. Our DJ would end the game scoreless but he continues to impress with his tenacity and instinct on the boards. There were several times throughout the game where Murray would either elevate over or outmuscle Nuggets players on his way to securing 13 rebounds. Since he became the starting point guard Dejounte is averaging almost 9 rebounds per game. He averages 12.8 per 48 minutes which leads all point guards. He would also chip in 7 assists and 2 blocks.

In the 4th quarter, it would come down to clutch three-point shooting and solid defense. In order to secure the win Manu brought the Grandpa Juice, Patty Mills chipped in, and LaMarcus shut down the paint.

Lablocked. pic.twitter.com/jyvEhtym3L

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 31, 2018

The Nuggets managed to get one final look at the basket in the final seconds. Spurs fans held their breath as Denver searched for an open three and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief as the final shot failed to fall in. All in all, it was one of the most exciting games of 2018 for a Spurs team that has had some trouble finding their rhythm as of late.

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The Spurs and Nuggets both have marquee matchups coming up on Thursday night. San Antonio will take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets while Denver faces off against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.