Grades: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets – Game #76

The San Antonio Spurs gave an amazing effort but ended up coming short against the Denver Nuggets. Going into the game, the Spurs were without four players: Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan, Keldon Johnson and Dominick Barlow. During the game, Cedi Osman went down with an injury. Despite the difficult cirumstances, San Antonio battled and battled before eventually losing to the defending NBA champions by a final count of 110-105.

The Spurs were down double-digits a few minutes into the game and it looked like it’d be a long night for the good guys. Thankfully, San Antonio had different plans. Going into halftime, it was neck-and-neck affair.

In the third quarter, the two Western Conference teams traded explosive runs. In the fourth period, the Nuggets seemed to grab control of the game. Denver was up 99-88 with eight minutes remaining but, again, San Antonio refused to let up.

A 12-0 run gave the Spurs a fourth quarter lead. The two teams traded big-time plays down the stretch until a Michael Porter Jr. three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining gave the Nuggets a three-point lead that finally proved to be too much for the Spurs.

All in all, the Spurs did a great job of scratching, clawing and competing throughout the game. Even though they lost, San Antonio has a lot to be proud about.

Stats: Spurs at Nuggets

spurs nuggets grades

Spurs at Nuggets – Final Grades

Victor Wembanyama

Man, it was simply another phenomenally productive outing for Wembanyama. The rookie neared a quadruple-double with 23 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and nine blocked shots. Offensively, Wembanyama was as aggressive as the short-handed Spurs needed him to be in order to succeed. He also passed the ball amazingly well and limited his mistakes. Wembanyama’s only issue on offense was his inaccurate shooting. Defensively, the rookie was a monster. He was even more impactful than the numbers suggests. There were dozens of possessions where Wembanyama was successfully defending two or three Nuggets at the same time. His rim protection was great, his rebounding was great and he moved his feet out on the perimeter. Yeah, this kid ain’t bad.

Grade: A-

Tre Jones

Jones has had some rocky outings lately but he was really good against the Nuggets. His passing, playmaking and decision-making couldn’t have been much better. In transition, he made the right choice every single time. His reading of the defense was exquisite. Scoring-wise, Jones did enough to keep the Nuggets honest. His post All-Star break shooting continues to impress. Defensively, this was one of Jones’ better showings. He was stout individually, rotated quickly and was legitimately game-changing on the boards. Jones put together a well-deserved triple-double.

Grade: A

Julian Champagnie

Champagnie didn’t move the needle a notable amount but he was a steady presence out there. His defense has incrementally gotten better as the season has progressed. He can make plays on that end on a somewhat consistent basis — and that’s not something we witnessed early in the campaign. Offensively in Denver, Champagnie did okay — especially considering that his looks from deep were limited. He could have finished better but I was impressed by his efforts.

Grade: B

Malaki Branham

With so much offense on the sidelines, the Spurs needed somebody to step into the scoring void. That player against the Nuggets was Branham. He led San Antonio with 24 points on efficient shooting. In the second quarter, it was a personal 11-0 run by Branham that brought the Spurs back. While Branham’s effectiveness waned on offense, it’s difficult to criticize his overall performance on that end. Defensively, he was better than usual. He was a liability, yes, but unquestionably better than usual.

Grade: A-

Cedi Osman

Before he limped off with an ankle injury, Osman was doing really good. He was making the right decisions, pushing the pace and then knocked down half of his four three-point attempts. His aggressiveness helped set the tone for the Spurs. Considering how well he has played as of late, let’s hope the ankle injury doesn’t end his season.

Grade: B+

Sandro Mamukelashvili

The good: Mamukelashvili was hustling around the court like he’s known to do. His rebounding on both ends of the court was really helpful. His smart movement, three-point shooting and passing on offense helped everything flow better. Defensively, his intensity mostly covered up any issues. The bad: Mamukelashvili didn’t do much inside of the arc on offense. His rotations on defense could have been more crisp.

Grade: B

Devonte’ Graham

In retrospect, Graham played too many minutes. He missed all of his three-pointers and hurt the Spurs on the defensive end. His decision-making on both ends left a lot to be desired. He helped a bit by taking on point guard duties but his negatives overshadowed any perceivable positives.

Grade: D+

Zach Collins

Collins played another really good game. In 18 minutes, he totaled 13 points, eight rebounds and two assists. For the second consecutive game, he didn’t have a turnover and didn’t take himself out of the game with unwise fouls. Collins was burly in the paint on both ends and his deft touch and passing ability were really useful. The bench really needed a focal point to keep everything afloat and he stepped up and fulfilled that role.

Grade: A-

Blake Wesley

Wesley reverted into some of his previous struggles by not finishing off plays and making shaky passes. Some of his decisions were really good — but there were too many bad ones for him to be relied upon. Defensively, Wesley brought the energy but his execution wasn’t great.

Grade: C-

Sidy Cissoko

Cissoko got five real minutes in the second half — and it didn’t go well. Offensively, he didn’t look interested in even trying to help out. It looked like he was really nervous out there, which shouldn’t have been too surprising. His panicky ways were also apparent on the defensive end.

Grade: D+


Pop had to get inventive in order to put his team in a position to win the game. His schemes on both ends kept the Nuggets guessing. Pop put Wembanyama in the middle of everything and games like this should only help the rookie’s development. The coaching staff also showed a lot of confidence in Branham — and that paid immediate dividends.

Grade: A-