San Antonio Spurs News

Spurs vs. Nuggets recap, reactions: Spurs can’t keep up with Nuggets

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 13: Pau Gasol #16 of the San Antonio Spurs grabs the rebound against the Denver Nuggets on February 13, 2018 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 13: Pau Gasol #16 of the San Antonio Spurs grabs the rebound against the Denver Nuggets on February 13, 2018 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
facebooktwitterreddit

The San Antonio Spurs dropped the second of a back-to-back against the Denver Nuggets.

Coming off a tough loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday night, the Spurs didn’t have enough in the tank to stay with the young, athletic Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. The Nuggets were able to pull away in the fourth quarter and secure a 117-109 victory over San Antonio. Tonight’s win was important for Denver, it pushes them to 31-26 and ties them with the Portland Trailblazers for 6th in the West. The Spurs lose their second in a row. San Antonio now get’s some much needed time off for the All-Star break. The rest could not come at a better time for a team that desperately needs to get healthy.

Related Story: San Antonio Spurs: Danny Green signs with Roc Nation Sports

The game started off closely contested and fast-paced. An early barrage of three-pointers from Danny Green and Davis Bertans quickly forced Nuggets head coach, Mike Malone, to take a timeout to make adjustments. It seemed like neither team could miss early. The Nuggets fast-paced offense was countered by the Spurs effective ball movement. San Antonio would rack up nine assists in the first quarter alone. With both teams lacking any real rim protectors, easy looks close to the basket were a hot commodity early on. Dejounte Murray would help lead the Spurs into halftime with a slight lead thanks in part to his perfect 5-5 FG shooting.

Davis and Dejounte have combined to score 14 of our 23 points in the 1st quarter #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/LhkMpoBnM8

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 14, 2018

DJ is on point ?

He's a perfect 5-5 from the field with 10 points so far in the contest #GoSpursGo https://t.co/ksKi41Zn6v

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 14, 2018

The Nuggets strategy in the second half was simple, run early and run often. Blessed with one of the very best outlet passers in the game in Nikola Jokic, Denver was constantly looking for opportunities to push the pace. Jokic had quite the game tonight. The Nuggets star would record a triple-double with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists. Jokic frequently brought the ball up or fed streaking Nuggets guards looking to get easy fast break points. This fast-paced style of offense forced Gregg Popovich to rely heavily on his bench. Four bench players would log 20+ minutes in tonight’s loss. Every single Spurs player saw the floor tonight. As a whole, the Spurs bench would outscore the Nuggets’ 66-25.

More from Air Alamo

One major contributor off the bench was Joffery Lauvergne. King Joffrey would dominate the paint in the second half on his way to posting a career high in points, 26 on 12-15 shooting, along with 12 rebounds. For all his passing skill Jokic is not a rim protector and, with Mason Plumlee out nursing a calf injury, the Nuggets didn’t have anyone who could stop Lauvergne from having his way inside. The French big man was effective in the pick and roll and was able to turn a few of his five offensive rebounds into easy putback baskets.

Denver Nuggets teams have historically liked to push the pace and take advantage of the natural advantage that comes with playing at such a high altitude. You could see the style of play and fatigue from last nights game set in during the fourth quarter. The Nuggets young players, especially the trio of guards, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and Will Barton, continued to push the pace while the older Spurs struggled to keep up. A 15-3 run midway through the fourth quarter would secure a lead that Denver would hold on to until the very end.

Tony drives the lane and gets the bucket, going back and forth here in Denver #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/GJGsa05grZ

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 14, 2018

Tonight’s loss drops San Antonio to 35-24 on the season and leaves them with a half-game lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves for 3rd in the West. A measly four games separate them from the 8th seed and there are two surging teams in the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz who are fighting to break their way into the playoffs. Spurs fans can expect LaMarcus Aldridge to return following the All-Star break. San Antonio will need him if they want to maintain their hold on a top seed and home-court advantage for the playoffs. Getting Rudy Gay and Kawhi Leonard back wouldn’t hurt either.

Next: Top 25 players in Spurs history

The Spurs will have a nice vacation before returning to play Denver again on February 23rd. Denver has one more contest before the All-Star break. They travel to Milwaukee to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on Thursday night.

facebooktwitterreddit