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San Antonio at Denver, Final Score: Bad FT shooting stifles Spurs rally in 102-99 loss to Nuggets

An unusually bad night at the line kills Spurs rally in Denver.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After a sluggish first half in the Mile High City, the San Antonio Spurs made a mad rally back into the game thanks to a strong defensive effort in the second half led by Derrick White, but they could never quite get back over the hump due to some horrendous free throw shooting and rebounding in a 102-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 24 points, while White scored 10 points along with 6 rebounds, 6 steals and 3 assists in front of his home town. Jamal Murray scored 31 points, followed by 21 for Nikola Jokic and Malik Beasley.

Random Observations

  • The team that is at home in the second game of these home-and-away match-ups always has the advantage because regardless of how the first game went, they have the comfort of being back at home in front of their own crowd, along with a pretty accurate scouting report.
  • It only took 46 seconds for Gregg Popovich to call his first timeout after two offensive rebounds led to Denver’s first bucket on their second possession. It didn’t get much better as the quarter wore on, with the Nuggets out-boarding the Spurs 16-6 (7-1 on offense) for 6 second-chance points on their way to a 31-23 lead. They also had a 5-0 advantage on the break. For the night, the Nuggets out-rebounded the Spurs 53-38 (17-12).
  • The second quarter wasn’t much better with the Nuggets extending their lead to as high as 18 via free-flowing offense and the Spurs continuing to shoot themselves in the foot. It felt like this game should have been over by halftime, but somehow, someway, it wasn’t with the Spurs hanging just within arm’s reach at 47-61.
  • Davis Bertans and Mason Plumlee have a good old-fashioned strawberry rivalry brewing out there. It was visible in both games. When those two are matched up, it’s physical with plenty of holding and a little extra curricular stuff behind the refs’ backs.
  • White led the Spurs back in the third by getting handsy with Jokic — he had four steals in the first five minutes of the quarter alone, which is a career high by itself — along with a block (that wasn’t credited, but believe me it happened), three assists and two monster dunks. The Spurs outscored the Nuggets 20-8 with him on the floor in the third and were only down 78-75 heading into the fourth.
  • Pop had a legit gripe with the refs midway the fourth quarter. The Nuggets were in the bonus and had eight free throws before the quarter was even halfway over, and at least two of those fouls were a clean steal and non-existent moving screen, both on Jakob Poeltl. On the other hand, the Spurs couldn’t buy a call early, even when getting swiped across the arms on lay-ups or shoved in the chest on post-ups.
  • Whenever the Spurs had a chance to hit the game-tying shot in the fourth, it just wouldn’t go down, whether it was free throws, an open three, or any other shot, no matter who was taking it. The second-best free throw shooting team in the league did itself no favors in this game, hitting just 11-20 from the line on the night, including 4-8 in the final two minutes.
  • Rudy Gay had a bad game (4-11 for 8 points in 24 minutes). Watch-out, Clippers.

For the Nuggets fans’ perspective, visit Denver Stiffs.

The Spurs will be in Los Angeles to take on the Clippers tomorrow at 9:30 PM CT.