The Spurs played their first game in what seemed like forever (by this hectic season’s standard) and survived three three-point shots in a row by Malik Beasley late, who led a furious almost-comeback for the Nuggets. DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 30 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge was rock solid with 27 points on a very efficient night, shooting 68%.
Both teams’ starters traded punches and leads early on until DeRozan and the Foreign Legion energized a scoring spurt. Even though the Nuggets were missing three starters, they were active and hitting threes to keep the game close.
However, any small momentum the Spurs had was short lived because the Nuggets took advantage of turnovers and fought their way back to take a brief lead. There was also an injury scare for DeRozan who appeared to have stepped on a Nugget player’s foot, but he was able to stay in the game.
In the second half, the Spurs were able to maintain a modest lead by feeding Aldridge in the paint. All night L.A. looked to feast in the post and found considerable success. That being said, anytime the Spurs looked to establish a lead, the Nuggets responded with another three. The score remained close heading into the final quarter.
Eight lead changes in a tight game gave way to a pair of back-to-back threes by Marco Belinelli and Bryn Forbes, which sparked a 17-0 run to open up a double digit lead halfway through the quarter. But in the last few minutes, the Nuggets could not miss from downtown and were able to cut the lead to 6 late. Eventually the good guys were able to hit their free throws and a few key shots to close out the game with a win.
- Rookie Lonnie Walker IV was eligible to start tonight. He didn’t play, but the young man will have his debut soon enough.
- Nikola Jokic is as advertised: a gifted passing big man. It’s easy to see how the Nuggets have been successful this season.
- We already knew what Aldridge, DeRozan, and Rudy Gay can do. In addition to those three’s expected contributions in every game, the team’s recent success can be attributed to the Spurs’ budding chemistry and the young players stepping into their roles nicely (e.g., Forbes, Derrick White, and Jakob Poeltl).
- Coach Popovich was wearing a dark windowpane-patterned suit, which was just enough flair for me to believe that he was channeling his inner Craig Sager.
Tune In Next Time:
San Antonio goes to Denver to take on the Nuggets again on Friday, December 28, 2018 at 8:00 PM CDT.