“It’s a hell of team (Denver Nuggets) and there’s a reason they won all those games in a row,” said San Antonio Spurs head Coach Gregg Popovich Wednesday evening. “We’re thrilled to get the win.”
Popovich and the Spurs came back from down 14-points in the first half to hold on to defeat the Nuggets 100-99 in a game that went all the way down to the final possession where the Spurs made the right switches on defense and forced Denver guard Andre Miller into a missed jumper.
When the Spurs fell behind 14-points in the first half, their answer to making a comeback came from their starting shooting guard, Danny Green.
“He really got us back in it when it started to slip away,” said Tim Duncan of Green’s shooting in the first half where he scored 19 points and connected on 6-of-7 three pointers.
“(His shots) they kept us alive,” continued Manu Ginobili after the game.
Once Green helped the Spurs gain momentum going into the half, the Spurs’ two All-Stars Duncan and Tony Parker would finish the job and lead San Antonio to the victory.
“Tonight Timmy and Tony were unbelievable,” said Coach Popovich after the game. Here’s the rundown of the Spurs’ 54th win of the season over the Nuggets.
First Half: Spurs 51, Nuggets 54
Spurs player of the half: Danny Green – 19 points, 6-of-10 shooting, and 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
Whether it was the Spurs going up early on the Nuggets by eight, or Denver coming back to take a 14-point lead, Green was a big part of the reason the Spurs were able to make it a three-point game going into the half. Green connected on 6-of-7 three pointers by finding ways to get into position to be open and let loose with the quick trigger. By half, Parker had already collected 10 assists, most to Green. On one specific play, Green was asking Leonard for the ball and when Leonard found him, Green nailed his fifth 3-pointer.
“They found me in good scenarios,” said Green of his teammates finding him open after the game. He said teams don’t game-plan with him as the number one option, so it allows him to find the right places to get the opportunities to shoot on offense with Parker, Duncan, and Ginobili on the floor.
“They found a rhythm with Green and controlled with that in a way,” added Andre Miller after the game of Green’s shooting.
Nuggets player of the half: Wilson Chandler – 15 points, 6/9 shooting.
If there was one player the Spurs didn’t have an answer for in the first half, it was Chandler. Chandler attacked the rim at will whether in the half court or out in transition. He was the one constant that kept the Nuggets on top in the first half.
Ball game: Spurs 100, Nuggets 99
Spurs players of the game: Duncan – 23 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks. Parker – 18 points, 11 assists.
As Green led the way in the first two quarters, the Spurs’ two All-Stars led the way in the second half as Duncan scored 11 points in the final 24-minutes, while Parker added 14 more points to his total. Duncan’s defense in the post was also a major impact as he had five blocks in the game. Duncan led the Spurs down the stretch where scored seven points in the final quarter.
“It’s tough when they’ve got a Hall-of-Famer in Tony Parker and Duncan and they surround them with shooters,” continued Miller after the game.
Nuggets players of the game: JaVale McGee – 21 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks. Andre Miller – 14 points, eight assists, five rebounds.
Defensively, McGee was the anchor for the Nuggets by making the Spurs players alter shots and try to avoid his lengthy frame in the paint. McGee scored 12 points in the second half for the Nuggets, mainly off of rim pounding dunks. With Ty Lawson still recovering from injury, Miller was the Nuggets’ playmaker in the fourth quarter. He and McGee combined for 14 of Denver’s 24 points in the final 12 minutes.
On the Offense and Defense
Offensively, the Spurs had five players score in double-figures, while Ginobili, who has had his struggles, hit a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to give the Spurs separation. The Spurs as a team shot 10-of-15 from 3-point range and scored 29 and 32 points in the second and third quarters. The turnovers were still an issue as the team turned the ball over 18 times for 24 Nugget-points.
Defensively, the Spurs played solid defense for three quarters of the game. Minus the second quarter where the Nuggets scored 34 points, the Spurs’ defense held the Nuggets to 99 points overall.
Clippers come in Friday
The Spurs continue their final 11 season games with the Los Angeles Clipper visiting on Friday. In the locker room, Green mentioned that the Clippers will come in with a chip on their shoulder since the Spurs blew them out in Los Angeles in their last meeting.
Where San Antonio stands
Here are a few stats showing where the Spurs stand in certain categories in the NBA. With the win, the Spurs hold a 1.5 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder (53-19) with 11 games remaining on the season.
Season record: 54-17
Home Record: 31-4
Vs. the Western Conference: 31-13
Games decided by 3 points or less: 7-3
Vs. teams above .500: 25-11
Very lucky to get out with a win. Interestingly, I didn't think our defensive rebounding was actually not that bad this game. Most of the Nuggets' putbacks came off of missed layups/inside shots from the Denver guards. We allowed wayyyy too much penetration which led to our bigs stepping up to defend the paint. That resulted in wide open offensive rebounds by the Nuggets. If we had stop their dribble penetration, we could have easily won this game.
Scary last possession w/ Javale in the paint & a much smaller defender. So many of his points came from lobs where he was in that last play. Luckily the passing lane was covered. 1 down, other tests up ahead...