San Antonio Spurs allow lead to slip on the road against Denver Nuggets

Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball. (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball. (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
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After establishing a 14-point lead in the first half, the San Antonio Spurs let the game against the Denver Nuggets get away from them.

From just before the tip-off, something was off with the San Antonio Spurs, who lost 127-120 to extend their losing streak to five. Their leading scorer DeMar DeRozan was mysteriously pulled from the starting lineup, said to be suffering back spasms just before the start of the game. After dropping the first four games of the annual Rodeo Road Trip, the Spurs stood 4.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for eighth in the West.

Things looked great in the first half with big man LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way with 17 of his game-high 33 points on 6-of-13 shooting. The Spurs hit 9-of-15 triples, 54.5 percent of their field-goal attempts and all 10 of their free throws.

This didn’t hold up in the second half with San Antonio finishing 48.8 percent from the field while giving up 74 points to the Nuggets on 27 made field goals and 11 free throw makes on 12 shots. Combo guard Jamal Murray was held to 1-of-5 shooting by point guard Dejounte Murray in the first half, but finished with 11 made field goals and 26 points.

Dejounte had a solid game for himself, finishing with a loaded stat line of 14 points, nine assists, six boards and a steal in 33 minutes for the silver and black. With DeRozan sidelined, Dejounte got to show off some of his improved passing vision as the team’s primary ballhandler – a role he was afforded after franchise floor general Tony Parker got benched in his last year with the Spurs.

DEJOUNTE ? MURRAY#GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/oR8HVMmiJl

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 11, 2020

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Though he didn’t finish with a great line, sophomore Lonnie Walker IV started at the small forward for San Antonio and finished a team-best +11. His athleticism, length and constant effort surged the Spurs on both sides of the ball, resulting in five boards, four assists and two steals. His chemistry with Dejounte is coming to fruition as the duo connected on a variety of plays throughout the contest on the fastbreak and in the halfcourt.

San Antonio had 45 bench points, but all five bench players averaged a plus/minus of -14.8. Scoring the ball well is one thing, but they need to lock up on the other end for it to matter.

The Spurs are now officially tied with the New Orleans Pelicans for the 10th seed and keep trending downward. This five-game losing streak could signal the end of an era for San Antonio with the organization’s illustrious playoff streak likely to come to an end.

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Aldridge, Murray and the starters really fought for this one and still came up flat. At this point, embracing the tank and letting their young players – including rookies – get some playing time and experience could be a more beneficial option than scrapping for a playoff spot that’s not likely to come to fruition.

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