The San Antonio Spurs dropped to 5-5 on the season with a loss to the Denver Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back. After a hard-fought loss at home on Friday night, the Spurs had to get on a plane and travel to Denver for a matchup just 24 hours later.
The game started relatively even as both teams’ offenses were scoring at will. The Spurs were attacking Nikola Jokic in the pick-and-roll which allowed Jakob Poeltl to score 8 quick points in the paint. On the other end, the Nuggets were targeting the Jamal Murray v Tre Jones matchup, and Jamal was having some success with 9 points early on. Denver then really started to heat up from three with Jokic running the show with his passing, as usual. San Antonio who came out hot to start with was slowing down and couldn’t keep pace with a blazing Nuggets offense. They ended the quarter down 13; 40-27.
The second frame started the same way as the first and ended with the Spurs unable to get any stops on a fluid Denver offense. The lead eventually increased to over 20 points until Devin Vassell who was coming off his career-high the night before started to hit a few tough shots which decreased the deficit. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to maintain that momentum as a few live ball turnovers killed them as the Nuggets scored a few easy buckets to build back their commanding lead heading into the half-time break. The Spurs were down 70-51 after the first 24 minutes.
Neither team could sustain a run coming out of the half with the deficit staying between 15-20 points for the first 6 minutes of the 3rd period. Then the Spurs started to get careless with the ball, giving away possession after possession, and this time the Nuggets made them pay by increasing the lead to 27. San Antonio did make a few plays down the stretch of the quarter by Devin Vassell and Isaiah Roby to bring the deficit down to 24 by the end of the frame.
It was the Bones Hyland show in the fourth with the second-year guard making several highlight plays to bring the home crowd to their feet. The Spurs second unit continued to battle to make the score look more respectable, but it wasn’t going to be the Silver & Black’s night as they lost to the Denver Nuggets by 25; 126-101.
- KJ & DV. The two bright spots in this blowout loss were the Spurs two best players continuing to excel on the offensive end. Keldon and Devin combined for 45 points on 15/26 shooting and 8/13 from three. They had 9 assists to only 4 turnovers as they showcased some nice play-making throughout the contest. With Devin most likely slotting back into the starting lineup next game after being on a minute restriction the Spurs should start to find their mojo back with KJ and DV giving them a 1-2 punch.
- Nikola Jokic. It was no surprise that it was Denver’s back-to-back MVP that was the star of the show tonight, putting up a 21-10-6-2 line in just 26 minutes and only missing a singular shot. The Spurs will have to be much better on the reigning MVP on Monday night if they stand a chance of winning the rematch.
- Turnovers. For a young team mistakes are common but tonight the Spurs had a whole bunch of killers, with live-ball TOs that led directly to Nuggets points. The worst of it was the timing of those turnovers that hurt the young squad. Every time they went on a little run to build some momentum they would turn the ball over on multiple straight possessions to kill off all the hard work they had just put in to bring themselves back into the game. They are young and they will learn but those crucial turnovers hurt their chances in this one.
Play of the Game
That second three in particular was elite shot-making from Devin.
Up next: Monday vs Denver Nuggets
These two teams will do it all over again on Monday night but this time in San Antonio at the AT&T Center.