The defending champion Denver Nuggets entered their contest with the San Antonio Spurs losing four of their last five games. They’ve struggled to get back to their winning ways since losing starting point guard Jamal Murray. They looked more like their championship selves in a 132-120 win over the Spurs.
San Antonio was carved up by Denver’s hyper-efficient offensive attack on Sunday night. The Nuggets shot 56.2% from the field, scored 66 points in the paint and hit 12 of their 28 three point attempts. They were clicking on all cylinders as the Spurs tried to keep up. Major runs in the third and fourth quarters buried San Antonio, despite the best efforts of the Spurs bench late in the game.
Nikola Jokic dominated in MVP fashion. He had 39 points, 9 assists and 11 rebounds. Victor Wembanyama was tasked with guarding him in stretches and had his moments. The rookie had one of his most impressive stat lines of the season, putting up 22 points, 11 rebounds, 6 steals and 4 blocks in just 25 minutes of play.
The Spurs will take their 12-game losing streak home for a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.
- What a game it was from Wembanyama. His six steals were a product of his length disrupting the Nuggets passing lanes. He even picked off a few of Jokic’s passes. There had been a lot of talk about how he would defend the more powerful bigs in the NBA, like Jokic. Wembanyama used his length as a deterrent close to the rim, even if he was overpowered in the post. Offensively, Wembanyama was assertive in his attempts to get to the basket. He attacked off the dribble, and was found by his teammates on some lobs after establishing good, early position on smaller defenders.
- Jeremy Sochan did not play in the second half due to some knee soreness. Despite the clamoring from Spurs fans for Tre Jones to run point guard full-time, the offense didn’t operate that much better without Sochan running the show in the second half. Jones however was +14 in his minutes, putting up 10 points and 6 assists. If Sochan is forced to miss any time, we may see more of Jones in the starting lineup.
- Devin Vassell continued to stay hot in his third game off the bench this season. He scored 19 points and knocked down four of his seven three-pointers in 26 minutes. Gregg Popovich told reporters before the game that they have been playing the guard off the bench to preserve his minutes. If he’s healthy, the Spurs could use his scoring ability in the stretches where the offense is sputtering.