The San Antonio Spurs were unable to regain their footing against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. The Spurs, who have been one of the best road teams in the NBA this season, were playing their first road game after their disastrous 2-7 homestand — but the woes continued.
The loss dropped the Spurs to 24-25 following the 106-96 loss. The last time the good guys were below .500 was January 5th when they were 3-4. As for the Nuggets, this was their seventh straight win and they’re now 33-18 on the season.
The Spurs emerged from halftime hitting on all cylinders. They went on an 18-4 run in the first five minutes of the third quarter to take a ten-point lead, 68-58. Unfortunately, that’s when the bench came in and the offense died on the operating table. In the next ten minutes of playing time, San Antonio scored nine points. During that stretch, the Nuggets built a 15-point lead to end the game.
Over a 15-minute stretch beginning in the middle of the third quarter, the Spurs went 5-for-20 from the floor and 0-for-7 from three-point range.
Spurs vs. Nuggets: Final Grades
DeRozan didn’t play well anywhere on the court. He was horrible on defense once again. On offense, he was sloppier than usual and finished at a sad clip. His only impressive stat tonight was his number of mopes per possession.
I thought Murray did well. Maybe a little bit too much one-on-one action and he missed a few rebounds he usually comes down with. Other than that, Murray was solid across the board. He took care of the ball, he was strong defensively on and off the ball, and he kept the Spurs competitive for stretches at time.
The good: White finished well; he was 6-for-8 on two-pointers. His defense was mostly solid. Help-wise, he had some special moments. The bad: He hit only 1-of-7 three-pointers and, even worse, eventually lost confidence in his shot. He wasn’t making plays and his decision-making was error-prone.
The good: Poeltl stayed out of foul trouble against the most skilled center in the league. All in all, even though Nikola Jokic still produced (25 points, ten assists, nine rebounds), I thought Poeltl defended him pretty well. His passing was much better than usual. The bad: One defensive board in 28 minutes won’t get it done. Poeltl’s help-defense and transition D weren’t as good as usual.
Johnson had a couple nifty finishes in the lane. His patience when driving was satisfactory. His passing was also okay. Defensively, Johnson was hit or miss but he was active. Overall, he was okay but simply didn’t do enough.
Considering the bench lost this game for the Spurs and Mills is the leading cog in that wheel, he deserves a fair share of the blame. Offensively, he was so focused on finding his own shot that it hurt the team’s rhythm. Defensively, Mills was mostly a turnstile.
Gay was like Mills — but worse. His offense never got going and he rarely contemplated passing unless he had to. Gay’s rebounding was stout but he was moving in such slow motion that he couldn’t compete on defense. The number of loose balls that bounced off of him or were ripped away was too high.
Defensively, I was mostly happy with Vassell. He efforted individually and offered timely aid. Offense, though, is a problem right now. He’s not doing anything of note on that end. The Spurs don’t have enough offensive talent for Vassell to do a Bruce Bowen imitation on offense.
Dieng has always been a robotic player and that is obviously hurting his adjustment to the Spurs. He has no idea where to go or what to do, which is muddying the waters on offense. He’s a little bit better on defense but he’s also lost on that end. To make things more difficult for Dieng, it’s apparent that his shoulder is still bothering him.
Eubanks wasn’t amazing but he was a lot more helpful than Dieng just due to the fact that he knew where to be on the court.
Teams are going under on all screens involving Jones and he’s not even looking to shoot. That’s not a good sign.
This was the first game all year that I thought Weatherspoon looked like an NBA player. His movements were crisp and it didn’t look like he was wearing lead boots. That offseason knee surgery understandably slowed him down … hopefully this was a sign that he’s rounding into shape.
Fast drives from the perimeter on offense, quick feet on the perimeter on defense. Samanic continues to pass the eye-test with flying colors.
The game was lost in the third quarter when the bench came into the game and proceeded to roll over and die. Pop not adjusting to what happened played a definite role in that. Trying something — anything — would have been appreciated.
The Spurs play the Nuggets again on Friday. San Antonio desperately needs a win to stop a complete and utter meltdown.