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San Antonio vs. Denver, Final Score: Spurs surge past the streaking Nuggets, 119-109

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The Spurs busted the Nuggets’ hot streak with a fourth quarter filled with tough D and nifty plays.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs defeated the white-hot Nuggets, 119-109, putting an end to Denver’s five-game winning streak and extending their own to three games while claiming fourth-place in the Western Conference.

DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray led the Silver and Black to victory with 30 points and 26 points, respectively. Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic paced the Nuggets with a game-high 35 points, ten rebounds, and five assists.

Observations

  • Let me start by saying I’ve never seen a cleaner pair of shoes in my entire life than the kicks DeRozan donned tonight. Not only did DeMar bless all of Spurs Nation with some feat heat, but his sneakers were the perfect tribute to San Antonio’s fiesta-inspired color scheme. Fans have already informed me there’s no way for me to get my hands on this legendary footwear since they’re “Player Exclusive”. While that may save my bank account from losing an ungodly amount of money, that won’t stop me from dreaming about hooping in these beauties.
  • Every player who appeared in the first half for San Antonio scored by the 8:23 mark of the second quarter and shot at least 50% from the field. Their crisp ball movement led to 61 points and 15 first-half assists, and San Antonio showed flashes of the beautiful team-first basketball that carried them to a title in 2014. I found myself smiling as they shuffled the rock around the horn on the way to their best shooting half (58.8%) of the season.
  • Quinndary Weatherspoon made his season debut after offseason knee surgery, and although his minutes were inconsequential, it was nice to see him suit up in Silver and Black.
  • I found it interesting that the Silver and Black implemented some full-court press following a Nuggets time out in the third quarter. It did little to deter Denver from closing their double-digit deficit to five points. Still, San Antonio probably has the proper personnel to make this work when Dejounte, Lonnie, and Keldon share the floor.
  • Lonnie Walker IV exited the game with some apparent back discomfort but returned to the contest mid-way through the fourth quarter. He immediately fumbled the ball on a sloppy dribble move upon coming into the game, and to be quite honest, never looked like himself even before the injury. He was silent for the majority of the contest, scoring three points and committing four turnovers.
  • A desperate Denver Nuggets team turned to a hack-a-Jak tactic to stop the Spurs from running their offense late. Poeltl air-balled the first free throw and bricked the second before Pop promptly subbed the Austrian center out for LaMarcus Aldridge.
  • The way Keldon Johnson plays basketball is reminiscent of a battering ram breaking down a door. He barrels through defenders on his way to the rim, crashes off bodies for rebounds, and refuses to give his assignments an inch on the defensive end. The second-year bruiser scored 19 points, grabbed nine boards, and drained a clutch step-back jumper down the stretch.
  • Coach Popovich called a timeout early into the first quarter after a defensive miscommunication between Lonnie and Dejounte that led to an uncontested layup for Jamal Murray. For all the pride and effort the young guys put into their defense, opponents have caught them sleeping on switches and in transition quite a few times this season. It was a teaching moment that hopefully pays off as they continue refining their game.
  • It can be easy to forget how elite DeMar DeRozan is at getting to the charity stripe. Only six active players have more career free throw attempts than the four-time All-Star, and year after year, he ranks among the league leaders in this category. The twelfth-year swingman got to the line six times in the first half alone and ended the outing with 30 points and ten assists on an insanely efficient 11-of-14 night from the floor.
  • Speaking of free throws, San Antonio committed just six fouls in the first half to send the Nuggets to the line two times. Part of that had to do with how passive they were attacking the rim, and it was a short-lived trend that ended in the second half. Denver ramped up their intensity and racked up 20 trips to the line by the final buzzer, but it didn’t make much of a difference as the Spurs never took their foot off the gas.
  • Dejounte Murry was fantastic, aggressively attacking the rim and scoring 12 points through the first two frames. He maintained his momentum over the final frames to finish with 26 points, seven rebounds, and a trifecta of assists. The fourth-year floor general has taken noticeable strides as a scorer and playmaker and engaged in an entertaining back and forth with his fellow Murray, Jamal.
  • Nikola Jokic is a wizard with the basketball in his hands. He consistently dominates his competition at half-speed, whipping magnificent passes around the hardwood, knocking down impossibly awkward fadeaways, and do it all with the athleticism of the world’s fastest turtle. While it is almost impossible to watch the Serbian center without feeling a mixture of wonderment and frustration, I’m glad the Spurs were able to overcome his magnificent performance.

For the Nuggets fan’s perspective, visit Denver Stiffs.

The San Antonio Spurs are back at it tomorrow night as they take on the hobbled Memphis Grizzlies in the second leg of a back-to-back.