So, the Spurs are 22-3. After barely escaping with a win at home against Milwaukee last night, the Spurs took the floor for what would turn out to be a wilder, and even more intense contest tonight. In one way, this game was old school Spurs basketball, as the big 3 did the great majority of the damage.
In another way, it clearly wasn't old school Spurs basketball - one look at the number of points scored by Denver should tell you that. But, any win on a SEGABABA on the road versus the best home team in the league is a welcome win. Also, Manu Ginobili is awesome - if you read PtR regularly, you already knew that, but it needed to be said again. How did he save us this time? Dive in for a gameflow recap.
Apologies if my writing seems rushed, but I wanted to capture as much of the action as I could. What follows is a cleaned-up version of my game notes.
For once, TNT's first game finished in time for them to cut to the Spurs game without it already being in progress. However, they then interviewed Big Baby Davis and went back to the studio to show highlights for the next 12 minutes, so the start time was delayed anyway. In the meantime, Sir Charles kept insisting that the Spurs weren't as good as Dallas.
Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood - Getty Images
A couple of early buckets by Arron Afflalo were part of a 4-4 shooting start that put the Moonmen up 8-4, with Timmy countering him with our first four points. Of course, Pop doesn't like it when we don't contest shots enough, so he called a timeout at this point, with 9:47 remaining in the first. Finally, the Nuggs missed a couple of shots(actually the Spurs blocked three - the Nuggs didn't miss anything that wasn't blocked up to that point), and the Spurs closed to within 2 a couple of times, 8-10 and 10-12.
The trend of Denver not missing anything that wasn't blocked continued, as Denver went on a 7-0 run before Afflalo finally missed a shot. Finally, Timmy hit a couple of freebies at the other end, and forced Nene and Shelden Williams into missed shots or blocks at the rim. Chris Quinn, of all people, showed some heart in getting his own rebound and laying it in to bring the score back to 14-19, and Tony kept the good vibes going on the next possession with a floater, which was then countered by a floater from... Nene? Weird. Then, things went from bad to worse when Blair got a defensive 3-second violation, Melo hit the freebie and Al Harrington hit a 3 on the ensuing possession to make it 25-16. George and JR Smith then traded baskets before a Blair dunk and a Lawson 3. Denver led 30-20 with 1:46 left in the quarter, and Pop called a timeout, because that score apparently doesn't indicate good defense.
Bonner hit a 3 out of the timeout, but the D wasn't any better as Harrington drove the lane for an easy lay-in. Parker and Lawson traded layups, once again not an indicator of defensive prowess. Tony got to the line on the ensuing possession and made both freebies, before the Spurs finally forced a miss(!) on the other end by Harrington. Tony got to the line once again on the Spurs final possession of the quarter and made one of two. But JR smith got a dunk and-one by losing Tony on the final play of the quarter. Not good, Tony, not good. You're faster than him.
Nuggets 37, Spurs 28
The Spurs started off the second with a couple of bricks, while Harrington made another 3. Tony countered with a patented Tony Parker floater, the Spurs forced a miss on the other end, and Neal drew a foul on Afflalo. Tony made another J on the possession, and Manu fouled Gary Forbes on the other end, who made one of two. Blair got an easy layup on the Spurs next possession, and the Spurs got lucky when JR Smith missed a 3, but screwed up the rebound by stepping out of bounds, and Melo went inside for a layup. George picked up a charge from Cryptkeeper Bavetta on the other end, and Harrington missed a contested layup. Forbes fouled on the ensuing Spurs possession, and Manu took advantage by nailing a 3 off of a nice screen by Blair.
When the Nuggets got the ball back, Melo drew a foul inside, and made one of two. Neal made a long shot with his foot on the line to bring us within 5(39-44), and the teams traded misses on 3 consecutive possessions before RJ drew a foul on his way to the rim on the break, making 1 of two freebies. JR Smith threw a pass out of bounds on Denver's next possession, but the Spurs failed to capitalize as Manu missed. Melo got an easy bucket on Denvers next trip, before RJ bobbled a pass inside from Timmy for a turnover. Timmy forced a miss from Nene, and RJ drew another foul on the ensuing fastbreak, making one of two freebies. Melo drew a foul on Neal near the rim, but thankfully missed the shot(made both freebies, though). Manu missed a three that looked rushed, and Lawson followed suit with a long miss of his own.
Timmy nailed a midrange jumper to get into doube figures, and Melo missed a VERY contested midrange shot of his own at the other end. Timmy tapped in a miss by TP to bring us within 3, but Afflalo answered with a jumper at the other end. Tony threw away the ball looking for Manu on the Spurs' next possession, and Lawson countered by missing a contested layup. Tony got inside and drew a foul on the other end, sinking one of the FT's. Melo missed a jumper badly, and Tony got a floater at the other end to bring us within 2. Nene answered with a jumper, and Neal missed a floater on our possession. Afflalo sinks a three at the other end, and suddenly we're down 7 again. Neal sank a tres of his own on the next possession, and Karl decided it was time to call timeout after a Neal foul(Melo sank one of the free shots). 56-51 Nuggets with 2:11 left in the second.
Timmy drew a foul on Forbes during our next possession, and made both freebies to get us back within 3. Afflalo travelled on the other end, and manu got called for the same thing when he shuffled his feet at the other end. Timmy got called for a weak goaltend on defense, and Tony got an easy lay-in on the next possession. Lawson capitalized on an offensive board at the other end, and Tony put in a bank shot at the other end. After a missed 3 from Afflalo, Manu missed a three of his own to end the half.
Nuggets 60, Spurs 57
Timmy opened the third quarter with a jumper, but Nene drew a foul on Blair at the other end and sank both of the freebies. RJ hit a three after some incredible ball movement to tie the game, but Lawson countered with a layup at the other end. Manu then missed an open 3, and Melo drew another foul on Blair, sinking both freebies. Manu drew two fouls on Nene on the ensuing possession, making both free throws. Nene commited an offensive foul right away at the other end(not to mention a travel), and Timmy layed in a nice pass from RJ to tie it back up.
Melo missed at the other end before Tony threw a pass too low for Timmy inside. Afflalo got a layup after Denver brought down the offensive board on a Melo miss. The teams traded bricks on the next few possessions, before Nene layed it in, even though he clearly pushed off of Duncan to get space. Timmy followed an RJ miss to bring us back within 3, and Nene drew a foul on Tim at the other end, making one freebie. Tony missed a midrange J, but the Moonmen caught a break on the other end when the refs blew an out-of-bounds call. Lawson layed it in on the bonus possession, and Timmy followed by nailing a Timmy bankshot. Afflalo nailed a long 2 at the other end, and Tony missed a layup, followed by Melo drawing a foul after two offensive rebounds by Denver(he made one of the FT's).
Timmy threw in another banker, followed by a steal underneath, but that effort was negated by a three-second violation on Dice. The Nugget's couldn't capitalize on the TO, and Williams fouled Dice on the rebound, while Nene committed a defensive three second violation on our next possession(Neal sank the freebie, and Dice got a lay-in on the possession to bring us within 1.) Dice got a dunk off of Tony's penetration and pass to give us our first lead at 77-76, before Melo nailed a long two to take the lead back just a few seconds later.
RJ committed an offensive foul before we could get another shot, and Harrington knocked down a three over Bonner, after which Bonner redeemed himself by making a three of his own. Tony stole the ball for an uncontested layup on the Nuggs' next possession to tie it back up. Melo's next shot was blocked by the rim, followed by RJ knocking down a big three from the top of the arc. Melo was fouled on a jumper, and made both freebies, followed by Hill throwing up an airball three attempt. The Nuggs retained possession after a miss by Anthony Carter, but Harrington missed a three at the buzzer to keep the Spurs up 1.
Spurs 85, Nuggets 84
Forbes opened the final quarter with a miss, and Neal countered with a miss of his own, with RJ committing a foul on the rebound attempt. Smith hit a long two to put the Nuggets back up by 1, but Dice answered with classic Dice jumper from the left baseline. Smith drew a foul on his way to the rim, and made both free throws at the other end. And then, it was Manu time.
Manu got an easy layup off a nice pass from Hill before Smith missed a layup. Manu then made a stepback jumper to put us up 3, and Melo bricked a jumper over Dice. Manu then made a three, to prove that the previous two possessions had gotten him going after a 1-8 shooting start, and putting us up 6. Afflalo missed the first Denver shot after a timeout, and Manu missed on a second three, but Bonner got the rebound and got fouled in the process(made 1 of 2).
Nene then got an layup and drew a foul on Duncan, completing the 3-point play. Manu and Timmy then ran the PnR to perfection, with Timmy getting an easy dunk. Nene countered with another lay-in around Timmy, and Afflalo fouled Manu on the ensuing possession. Tony got fouled by Nene on a floater attempt that missed, and proceeded to make both FT's. Bonner made a three after a scrambling, frantic possession following a Nene miss. Smith missed a shot on the other end, and Nene picked up his fifth foul while Manu was dribbling to the left baseline. Tony bricked a floater, and Smith double-dribbled at the other end. Another Spurs miss was followed by Melo making an easy one over George. Timmy missed on the our end, and Tony fouled Lawson on a drive, who made both freebies. Manu missed a three, but Nene thankfully missed a dunk on the ensuing Denver possession.
George missed another three, and Timmy scored on the classic four down play after a Manu steal. Hill fouled Smith on the other end, who made both of his shots from the line. Tony layed in a sweet pass from Timmy, but Afflalo knocked down a three at the other end. The Spurs then went to four down again, but Timmy missed this time, and Melo got a layup and foul on the other end. Melo missed the free shot, and RJ made a three on the ensuing possession to bring the lead back up to 5(109-104). Nene missed a shot with Timmy draped over him, followed by four down at the other end, on which Nene fouled out(bad call, but I'll take it given all the ones that went against us tonight). Timmy missed both FT's, and Melo made a circus layup at the other end. Tony missed a three, and fouled Smith on the rebound, who made one of two. George got called for an offensive foul on the next possession. Suddenly, not looking so good. Next, Afflalo missed a long two, and Manu missed a stepback jumper, followed by a loose ball foul on Dice. Harrington made one of the freebies. 109-108, Spurs up with 23.1 seconds remaining.
The Spurs played keep away for a few seconds until Manu got fouled at the 16.1 second mark, and The Sickness made both, causing Karl to call timeout. Melo drove for a dunk, followed by a deflection of the inbounds pass gave Melo another layup with 7.1 seconds left. Manu then got a layup with 4.2 left. Spurs 113, Nuggets 112. That would prove to be the final score, as Manu drew a charge on Anthony, negating what would have been the game-winner, and Dice cuaght the inbounds pass to take the last 0.4 off the clock.
Spurs 113, Nuggets 112
As fas as Carmelo's post-game disagreement with the charge call is concerned, I'm going to quote Hirschof, from after last night's game:
WE HAVE MANU GINOBILI. YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID.
Ladies and gentlemen, Manu Ginobili.
Three Stars (in no particular order)
Tim Duncan - Hey Charles, Timmeh heard you before the game saying that he wasn't the reason for the Spurs' 2010-11 early success. 28 points, 16 boards, 4 blocks, 3 assists, 1 steal and zero turnovers say "Shut up, Chuck".
Manu Ginobili - If all you did was look at the box score for this game, you'd have no idea how great Manu really was. 16 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and the only starter with a positive plus/minus. Oh, and a clutch rating of about 8 trillion, due to his go ahead shot, and drawing the game-clinching offensive foul.
Tony Parker - Tony kept us in the game during a few stretches, especially late in the first half. 24 points and 9 assists is a great night for Tony anytime it happens.
Honorable mention to Matt Bonner, who made shots, as well as a few key plays that contributed to him leading the team in +/- (it's uncanny how he does that).