Grades: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets – Game #10

Playing in the second game of a back-to-back, the San Antonio Spurs didn’t have it in them to compete with the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night. The Nuggets outscored the Spurs in every quarter to cruise to a 126-101 victory. With the loss, the Spurs are now 5-5 on the season.

The Spurs actually led 13-10 in the first quarter — but that’s when the wheels fell off. By the end of the first period, the Nuggets led 40-27. San Antonio never truly threatened the rest of the way.

The Nuggets relentless offensive attack was the biggest difference. They finished the game shooting 60.9% from the field, including 15-of-29 from beyond the three-point arc.

Spurs at Nuggets – Final Grades

spurs nuggets grades

Keldon Johnson

With a lot of poor play and youthfulness surrounding him, Johnson still managed to have an efficient night at the office. He doesn’t deserve any of the blame for this loss. He shot it straight and passed it pretty well. Johnson had a few sloppy plays but it was usually due to his teammates being in the wrong spot.

Grade: A-

Jakob Poeltl

The good: Poeltl got off to a hot start on the offensive end. His offensive assertiveness was the best thing the Spurs had going in the first quarter. The bad: Poeltl’s positioning was uncharacteristically unreliable tonight. Going against Nikola Jokic, that’s a problem. Poeltl tried hard but he didn’t really stop Jokic from doing whatever he wanted to do. Offensively, Poeltl regressed as the game progressed.  

Grade: B-

Tre Jones

The Nuggets decided they were going to attack Jones early and often. Sadly, that gameplan worked to perfection. The Nuggets scored 70 first half points and a lot of that was simply picking on Jones over and over again, particularly in the low post. Offensively, the Spurs desperately needed players to pick up the scoring slack but Jones wasn’t up to the task.

Grade: D

Jeremy Sochan

I didn’t like this outing for Sochan. Offensively, the rookie was basically hiding from the ball. It was obvious he didn’t want to shoot three-pointers — so he stayed close to the paint. This was a problem because the spacing was terrible in halfcourt sets when Sochan was in the game. He also didn’t fill the lane properly on fast breaks. Defensively, Sochan wasn’t slacking but he also wasn’t as vibrant as usual. 

Grade: D

Malaki Branham

Branham was in the starting lineup again. The rookie, well, looked like a rookie. He’s either hesitating or rushing shots and he’s not quite sure what he needs to do. It seems like Branham has good instincts but he just needs to trust himself. After he missed his first few shots tonight, he started second-guessing his every move. To his credit, Branham played better in the second half.

Grade: C-

Devin Vassell

On a minutes restriction again, Vassell was spectacular for the second straight night. He now has 49 points in 50 minutes since returning from injury. If his offense wasn’t so needed with the starting unit, the coaching staff would have to consider keeping him on the bench due to how well he performed the last two games. Vassell hit difficult shots, looked smooth off the dribble and oozed confidence. Let’s hope these last two games are a sign of things to come once Vassell’s minutes restriction is lifted.

Grade: A-

Josh Richardson

Richardson was better than he was last night but still didn’t look totally comfortable as the team’s backup point guard. He hit a couple threes but the Spurs seemingly lose their pace and rhythm when Richardson is running the show. Let’s hope Richardson can actually run the backup point guard minutes or else the Spurs might have to look to the free agency market to find a player who can.

Grade: C+

Keita Bates-Diop

Bates-Diop did decently well. He’s one of the few players who competed well on both ends of the court. That said, he still needs to shoot more three-pointers. He has a bad habit this season of passing up an open three only to travel on his way to the rim.

Grade: B-

Doug McDermott

Yikes. This was a really bad outing for McDermott. He was overwhelmed on the defensive end repeatedly. Offensively, he didn’t hit a shot and even missed a pair of free throws. McDermott totalled one point and one foul in 16 minutes — and that was the end of his statistical output.

Grade: D

Isaiah Roby

After missing three games with an illness, Roby was decent in his return. He annoyingly missed wide open teammates a few times but otherwise he was productive. Roby’s open court athleticism was useful against an athletic Nuggets squad. 

Grade: B-

Gorgui Dieng

With Zach Collins sidelined with a left leg contusion, Dieng got the backup center minutes. I wasn’t too impressed. He was recklessly ambitious with his passes and his defense looked slow. Dieng had a few positive moments but his overall output was negative.

Grade: C

Jordan Hall

In five minutes, all Hall did was miss a three-pointer and commit a foul.

Grade: Inc.

Pop

Pop couldn’t do much when only Johnson and Vassell were consistently playing at an NBA level and the Nuggets were hitting every shot they decided to attempt, no matter how ridiculous. Add in the fatigue and this turned into an unwinnable game. I do like that Pop started two rookies and played them extended minutes even though neither one played particularly well. 

Grade: B-