The Denver Nuggets fell for the first time this preseason as the San Antonio Spurs defended home court with a 122-100 victory.
The Denver Nuggets brought an almost full strength roster to San Antonio on Sunday, but they were beaten at their own game by the Spurs. Despite missing both Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, the Spurs looked to be in mid-season form as they compiled 31 assists and hit 16 of their 28 three pointers.
The Spurs outscored Denver in three of four quarters on their way to a 22 point blow out. Five Spurs hit double digits in scoring, led by LaMarcus Aldridge, who had his way with both Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic on the offensive end. The former Trail Blazer finished with 21 points on 9-16 from the floor. Brandon Paul led the spurs in +/-, posting a ridiculous mark of +30 in 16 minutes of action.
The Nuggets came into the game with some clear priorities, as coach Malone outlined after Practice on Saturday. The Nuggets had been turning it over in the high teens thus far and they were able to cut that mark down to 13 on Sunday. That’s still too many, although they actually won the turnover battle in this game—forcing 21 San Antonio giveaways.
Another priority for Denver in this game was to tighten up their interior defense. You could see a concerted effort to do so from the Nuggets, but ironically it led to far too many open shooters on the perimeter. The effort was there on defense and the turnovers were indeed down. But the Spurs had their way on the boards, and they drowned Denver in three pointers.
Jokic led the Nuggets in scoring. The Serbian posted 19 points in 24 minutes while hitting seven of his 13 field goal attempts. He tacked on seven boards and four assists as well. Will Barton and the recently extended Gary Harris also made positive contributions. They finished with 16 and 15 points respectively on efficient shooting nights. Paul Millsap couldn’t say the same, as the All-Star forward shot just 20 percent from the field.
Jamal Murray sat this game out, providing Emmanuel Mudiay and the now healthy Jameer Nelson with a huge opportunity to prove they should be the starting point guard. Neither were able to put forth a convincing argument. Mudiay finished with just four points on a 1-6 night from the field. He also turned it over twice in 19 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Nelson, who had just been reinserted into the rotation, finished with only two points in 22 minutes.
The Nuggets next game will come at home against the new look Oklahoma City Thunder. That game will tip off on Tuesday, October 10, at 7:00pm MT. Denver still has much to flesh out regarding their depth chart. Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for pre and postgame coverage.