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Study Hall: Kawhi Leonard punishes Nuggets

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The Spurs started this one ice cold, and outside of Parker and Leonard, never found a lasting offensive rhythm. But, true to this season's form, they played suffocating defense and won by 11 despite scoring just 91 points.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 91, Nuggets 80 - Nov 27, '15

The Duncan- and Ginobili-less Spurs were able to keep the W train rolling against an overmatched Nuggets team which was missing Kenneth Faried.  It wasn't pretty, was sloppy at times, and was played at a downright glacial pace of 94 possessions (5 below league average), but the Spurs strangled the life out of the Nuggets defensively and got huge contributions from Leonard and Parker to pull out the win.

The most exciting aspect of the early part of the game (for me at least) was the insertion of Boban Marjanovic into the starting lineup.  He mostly did not disappoint, pitching in two points, 4 boards and an assist in his 6 minutes of play, the only Spur outside of Parker and Leonard to contribute more over half an AjdGS point per minute of play.  The Nuggets weren't able to really exploit him off the PnR, and he showed off his passing ability with this lovely dime to LA:

Despite Boban's solid play, or perhaps because of their Giant Ball lineup, the Spurs struggled early on offense, and after about 5 minutes Popovich went to smaller, Boban-less lineups with Diaw and West which the Spurs stuck with for the rest of the game.  The Spurs continued to struggle in the second quarter, falling behind by 11.

At that point, with the offense looking disjointed and failing to generate easy looks, Kawhi and Tony took over, scoring 27 straight combined points for the Spurs in a run that spanned halftime and gave the Spurs a lead they would not relinquish.

While the Spurs' classic "Beautiful Game" may produce a higher ceiling than star-centric "hero ball", it's great to have some serious star power to fall back on when things get shaky. [Editor's note: At the very least, it allows Pop to schedule rest days for the Big Three more often. -jrw] The Spurs look like they are starting to be able to count on Kawhi Leonard for that kind of effort on a nightly basis, and with Aldridge and a healthy Parker ready to pitch in with big games, their offensive floor looks to be very, very high.

Kawhi's play was sublime, as he scored efficiently with 25 points on just 18 shots and filled up the stat sheet in every category with 7 boards, 6 assists, 5 blocks and 4 steals.  These kinds of stat lines are becoming routine as Kawhi continues his ascent into the basketball heavens.  His 27.06 PER is good for 6th in the league this year, .03 ahead of LeBron James.  Kingslayer, indeed!

Tony Parker's continued excellent play has been a huge boon for a team that is still struggling to find its offensive rhythm.  With the holiday season now upon us, all this Spurs fan wants for Christmas is continued good health for TP.  And Manu.  If those two can just stay healthy (they seem to be the most fragile players on the roster this season), I like the Spurs' chances of reaching 60+ wins.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Nuggets
Shooting (eFG%) 53% 45%
Ball Handling (TO%) 20% 19%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 15% 18%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 19% 17%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Nuggets
Pace (No. of Possessions) 93.9
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.97 0.85
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.21 1.04
2-PT FG% 52.8% 42.1%
3-PT FG% 36.4% 35.0%
FT% 78.6% 84.6%
True Shooting % 56.1% 48.4%
Spurs
Nuggets
Offensive Rating 95.6 86.3
Defensive Rating 86.3 95.6
Net Rating 9.3 -9.3
Spurs Nuggets
Passes / poss. 3.4 2.8
% of FGA uncontested 44.0% 49.4%
Points in the paint 28 40
Second chance points 7 9
Fast break points 8 13
Spurs Nuggets
Assists 22 17
Steals 11 8
Turnovers 18 18
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.83 1.39
Spurs Nuggets
Expected Offensive Rebounds 8.5 11.3
Offensive Rebounds 5 8
Difference -3.5 -3.3

Spurs Shot Chart

Nuggets Shot Chart

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Kawhi Leonard 32 35.8 1.12 25 Pts (11-18 FG, 2-4 3PT, 1-1 FT) 7 Reb (1 Off), 6 Ast, 5 Blk, 4 Stl, 2 TO, 1 PF 30% 60% 103.9 76.5 27.4
Tony Parker 25 14.3 0.58 13 Pts (6-7 FG, 1-1 3PT, 0-2 FT) 1 Reb (0 Off), 5 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 2 PF 19% 65% 101.9 89.7 12.3
Jonathon Simmons 27 6.9 0.26 12 Pts (4-8 FG, 1-4 3PT, 3-3 FT) 2 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 5 TO, 2 PF 26% 38% 105.5 88.3 17.2
Patty Mills 21 6.4 0.30 9 Pts (4-7 FG, 1-4 3PT ) 3 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF 19% 43% 104.5 85.9 18.7
Danny Green 27 5.1 0.19 9 Pts (3-9 FG, 3-6 3PT ) 4 Reb (0 Off), 1 Stl, 2 TO 20% 24% 88.5 95.4 -6.8
Kyle Anderson 29 5.0 0.17 5 Pts (1-3 FG, 3-4 FT) 4 Reb (0 Off), 3 Ast, 1 TO, 3 PF 10% 55% 102.4 71.9 30.5
Boris Diaw 23 5.0 0.22 6 Pts (3-5 FG, ) 5 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 4 PF 12% 53% 101.0 84.1 16.9
LaMarcus Aldridge 18 4.9 0.26 8 Pts (4-11 FG, 0-1 3PT ) 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO 31% 33% 84.8 89.5 -4.7
Boban Marjanovic 6 4.9 0.78 2 Pts ( 2-2 FT) 4 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 2 PF 7% 117% 60.7 123.9 -63.1
David West 19 2.6 0.14 2 Pts (0-4 FG, 2-2 FT) 6 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO 17% 21% 102.3 89.5 12.8
Matt Bonner 4 1.6 0.46 0 Pts 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Stl, 0% 0% 0.0 100.0 -100.0
Ray McCallum 6 -0.5 -0.08 0 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-1 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 18% 18% 54.5 90.0 -35.5
Rasual Butler 4 -0.9 -0.25 0 Pts (0-1 FG, 0-1 3PT ) , 17% 0% 0.0 100.0 -100.0

Show Nuggets Players

Spurs Index: 102.4 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 61.1% 29.5
Shooting (eFG%) 53.3% 19.9
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 82.2% 21.5
Defense (DefRtg) 86.3 23.2
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 49.4% 8.3
Total 102.4

Nuggets Spurs Index: 95.7 Show Breakdown

Confused? Show Advanced Stats Glossary