San Antonio beat the eighth-seeded Nuggets on Saturday night in the AT&T Center. No surprise there, the Spurs were enjoying their fourth home game in a row with no back-to-backs while the Nuggets were finishing up a tough four-games-in-five-nights stretch (FOGAFINI in the PtR vernacular). The Spurs finished the three-game season-series sweep with the win.
With the loss the Nuggets fall to 22-28 and remain in the eighth seed, though the Blazers are just a half-game back. The east currently has two teams below .500 that would be in the playoffs if the season ended right now. That doesn’t seem good.
With the win Gregg Popovich now has the most wins (1,128) with a single franchise in NBA history, passing Jerry Sloan’s 1,127. There’s no question that he’s about to have his 20th-straight winning season and more impressive than that is that it will almost certainly also be his 20th-straight season with the team winning at least 60% of their games.
After the game Nuggets coach, Mike Malone, said that the achievement “speaks to the fact he’s arguably the greatest coach the NBA has ever seen.” He continued, “Pop has had a tremendous impact on my career and I am very happy for him.”
Pop trails Don Nelson (1,335 wins) by 207. That’s certainly in reach for the 68-year old Popovich. He’s currently 7th on the all-time wins list. Of coaches with at least 1,000 wins he trails only Phil Jackson in win percentage - 69.4% to 70.4%.
There’s not much to say about the game, it was a routine February win over a sub-.500 squad for the Silver and Black, who have the best defensive-rating in the league (101.3) and the fourth best offensive-rating in the league (110.8).
The first half was fairly competitive, with the Spurs taking a 56-50 lead into the break behind great halves from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The two remaining OG-Big-Three combined for 30 points on 10-for-11 shooting. The rest of the team went 8-for-23 in the first two quarters.
The second half was all San Antonio, with SA returning to their third quarter dominance for the second game in a row, outscoring the Nuggets 35-22 to take a 19-point lead into the final frame. Pop summed up the second half quickly:
[We had a] good second half, we had 17 assists in the second half. Big difference. Four turnovers, big difference. That was probably the ball game. [Our] defense was a little bit better. They’re a tough team to guard. I thought we focused really well defensively and it fueled a lot.
The fourth quarter was garbage time for both teams - no starters saw a second of play - and the Spurs won the period 30-25 behind 17 from Jonathon Simmons on 7-of-10 shooting. Simmons, Davis Bertans, Joel Anthony and Kyle Anderson played all 12 minutes of the quarter. Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills split the PG minutes at nine and three, respectively.
Let’s pause to watch Simmons do his explosive thing:
While we’re at it, why not a Davis Bertans jam. The Latvian has been better than expected in his rookie season, showing he’s not just a shooter.
By the game’s conclusion the Spurs bested the Nuggets 65-47 in the game’s final 24 minutes, shooting 60% to the Nuggets’ 46.5% and taking care of the ball - four turnovers to the visitors’ 13.
Your Spurs improve to 39-11 with a little over a third of the season left to play. They remain pretty isolated in the two-seed out west, trailing the Dubs by four games and holding a six-game loss-column advantage over the Rockets. The Spurs also hold a four-game loss-column advantage over the Cavs for home-court in the playoffs if the Spurs find themselves in the Finals. San Antonio remains on a 64-win pace.
- Manu Ginobili scored 18 points in 10 minutes in the first half of the game. It’s just the third time since 2002 that a player has scored at least 18 in 10 minutes or less in a half of play. The other two: Kyle Lowry and Samuel Dalembert (I bet no one would have guessed Dalembert). H/T Jordan Howenstein for the always wonderful stats.
Manu didn’t play in the second half of the game. He finished 5-of-6 from the floor and 4-of-5 from deep to reach his season-high of 18.
Popovich didn’t take the bait about Manu turning back the clock from a reporter, responding to the prompt with, “Well, he made shots.” Pop’s the absolute best! Tony Parker was a little more impressed with Manu after the game, saying, “Manu was on fire. It looked like the old days.”
Indeed, Gramps continues to be pure joy to watch in his 15th season. I truly hope he plays a few more years. Let him play 10 minutes every other game. Why not?
Manu had himself a first half...— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 5, 2017
18 points on 5/6 shooting (4/5 from three) and 4/4 at the line. pic.twitter.com/R9ZPmtsK6a
- The Spurs had at least six players score in double figures for the second game in a row. Kawhi led the way with 19, Manu, Tony and Jonathon Simmons chipped in 18 each, LaMarcus scored 12 and Patty got 10.
- San Antonio hit 45 of their 79 shots, good for 57% from the floor. They were excellent from deep as well, hitting 10 of their 21 threes.
- The Spurs have scored at least 100 in 39 of their 50 games, doing so in each of their last 27 contests. They’ve also limited their opposition to less than 100 points in 24 games this season and in 10 of their last 19 games.
- Kawhi was fairly quiet in this one but what’s a recap of a win without at least one Kawhilight?
- The Spurs are back to getting Dewayne Dedmon the ball for alley-oops and it’s a blast. This one makes three for the new Spur in the past two games.
That’s it for Spurs home games until March. The Spurs will have six games in ten nights before the all-star break as they head east to take on the Grizzlies, Sixers, Pistons, Knicks, Pacers and Magic. After some time off for the all-star break the team will head to Los Angeles to play the Clippers and Lakers on the 24th and 26th of February. San Antonio will be back in the Alamo City on March 1st to host the Pacers.
That starts a home-heavy schedule for SA, with 16 of their last 24 games at the AT&T Center. The team only has four back-to-backs remaining on the schedule, with one coming on the Rodeo Road Trip.