Denver Nuggets Routed by Spurs, 101-86


The shorthanded Denver Nuggets were routed by the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday at the AT&T Center, falling by a final score of 101-86.

Without both Danilo Galinari and Emmanuel Mudiay (who missed his seventh consecutive game on Saturday against the Spurs), the Denver Nuggets ran into an angry juggernaut. The Spurs, who lost on Christmas day at Houston, started off slow, but after the second quarter began, went on a run and did not let up until the final buzzer went off.

The Denver Nuggets kept the game close in the first quarter, trailing the San Antonio Spurs by only 2 with the score at 22-20 going into the second period of play. In the second quarter, however, the Spurs awoke from their slumber to blitz the Nuggets, scoring 34 points in the quarter. The Denver Nuggets did not play horribly in the second, but when the Spurs are clicking, they are as difficult to beat as any team in the association. The Denver Nuggets trailed the Spurs by a score of 56-42 at halftime.

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The Spurs got off to a 14-6 run to begin the third quarter, stretching their lead to 22 at 70-48 with 6:41 left in the period. The Denver Nuggets would cut into that 22 point lead, going on a 17-6 themselves to finish the quarter, pulling within 11 points at 76-65 at the end of the period.

An 11 point deficit was as close as the Denver Nuggets would get on Saturday at the AT&T Center, as the Spurs stretched their lead again in the fourth quarter back to 16 points with 8:30 left in the period. The Nuggets did diminish the Spurs lead back to 11 points with 2:23 left in the period after a Randy Foye basket, but it was too little too late for the visitors.

After an excellent win on Wednesday against the Suns on the road, the Denver Nuggets stumbled. There is no shame in losing to the Spurs in San Antonio though, as they have now won 26 consecutive games there. Some teams, like the Atlanta Hawks, have not won in San Antonio since 1997. The Denver Nuggets, as mentioned earlier, did not play horribly, but rather, just played against a team that is incredibly confident on their home court.

Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets in scoring on Saturday against the Spurs with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in 26 minutes off the bench, and had a +/- of +7. Contrast that stat line to starting center Joffrey Lauvergne, who scored 9 points and recorded 6 rebounds in 22 minutes, and had the second lowest +/- on the Denver Nuggets on Saturday of -22. Nikola Jokic is making a strong case to return to the starting lineup — especially considering the uncertainty surrounding the health and recovery of Jusuf Nurkic

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Will Barton shot 50 percent from the floor against the Spurs, scoring 16 points off the bench for the Denver Nuggets. Gary Harris led all starters in scoring on Saturday with 10 points and 5 assists in 34 minutes on 4-10 shooting from the field. Jameer Nelson, who missed the Denver Nuggets previous game against the Phoenix Suns this past Wednesday due to an illness, returned to the starting lineup on Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs.

Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs with 20 points on the night to go along with 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Boris Diaw added 16 points off the bench for the Spurs. All in all, the result was expected — and it’s disappointing — but the Denver Nuggets did not perform that poorly (relatively speaking) against a Spurs team with the second best record in the league right now. There are plenty of positives to glean from this game, such as the exceptional play from Nikola Jokic.

Next: Denver Nuggets Snap Skid, Beat Suns 104-96

The schedule will not get any easier for the Denver Nuggets, as they head to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder in the second game of a back to back on Sunday. The Thunder have the third best record in the league, and it is no easy task to play Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and company. Stay tuned.