The Nuggets tried. Oh man did they try. But ultimately putting yourself down by 19 points against the defending Western Conference champs and current best team in the NBA is a bad idea and Denver fell just short of completing their comeback by falling 108-103 and were officially eliminated from the playoffs.
Please leave your thoughts on the grades in the comments below.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 34 MIN | 8-15 FG | 8-10 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 24 PTS | -11
These types of nights are becoming more and more common for Faried. Offensively he was good, defensively he was not and he was on the floor for the major Denver run. Tonight he did it against a lot of length in Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter so that is a nice sign going forward.
|Quincy Miller, SF 22 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -18
Quincy’s start was great. Everything after that wasn’t so much.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 30 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -8
The offense and rebounding were good from Mozzy who finished through and over bodies in the paint tonight, something he doesn’t do often enough. But defensively he struggled there were plenty of moments where he was responsible for Tim Duncan and let the future hall of famer wander around the elbows and torch Denver with his jumper or passing before the defense could react. At one point he was stuck chasing a pass that was already delivered and it led to Duncan sealing Mozgov away for an easy dunk. It was another worrisome moment in the Mozgov struggles against athletes and guys who can shoot file and a big reason he wasn’t on the floor to close the game.
|Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 2-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 7 PTS | -11
Lawson being on the floor opens things up so much for Denver but his production tonight was minimal, especially scoring which is something he needs to do for Denver to win games on a nightly basis.
|Randy Foye, SG 34 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -6
The Spurs did a terrific job of bottling up Foye and not allowing him to get open threes tonight. But that will happen when Randy Foye is your best wing player, a role he should never play.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 30 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 4 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +11
The shooting numbers weren’t good for Arthur, and some of the shots were a bit questionable, but it was no coincidence that the fourth quarter run came with Arthur on the floor. He is so far and away the best big man defender on the team when put in positions to succeed thanks to his understanding of rotations and the athletic ability to make them and that was again on display tonight.
|Aaron Brooks, PG 31 MIN | 9-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 25 PTS | +12
Brooks did every single thing he could to get Denver back in the game in the second half. He was absolutely terrific driving to the rim, knocking down threes and finding teammates. Denver doesn’t get anywhere close to the Spurs in the second half without him.
|Evan Fournier, SG 22 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 5 PTS | +8
In 22 minutes Fournier had as many turnovers as made field goals and assists combined. These games without Wilson Chandler and Nate Robinson should be a chance for Fournier to show he has value as more than just a spot up shooter that can attack a closeout every now and then and he hasn’t often enough. Instead tonight he was flummoxed by the Spurs length and athleticism on the perimeter that for the most part cut off his drives and left him with nothing to do.
Shaw rode the hot hands that got Denver back in the game late but ultimately it is almost impossible to beat the Spurs with an eight man rotation that includes guys in roles they don’t belong in like Randy Foye as the best wing player and Quincy Miller as a 20 minute a game player.
Four Things We Saw
- I’m not sold on Timofey Mozgov as anything more than a third big and nights like tonight make it even harder to believe there is more there. Mozgov just looked lost at times against the Spurs fast ball movement and cuts which is a problem for a guy whose only real defensive role is as a rim protector. He wasn’t the only guy to struggle but as a guy whose specialty is probably defense (or it has looked that way based on his offense in the second half of the season) it is a worrisome trend.
- Mozgov did hit a three tonight though. I guess as a compliment to Kenneth Faried it makes sense since Faried won’t ever be mistaken as a floor stretcher but if Mozgov is going to return to the bench next year to play heavier minutes alongside Darrell Arthur I don’t really get the point. It is fun to watch as this season winds down though.
- There was a sequence early on in the game that showed the vast disparity in the Spurs and Nuggets. First the Nuggets ran a play that ended with a Kenneth Faried pin down screen for Quincy Miller. Miller made the shot but the action was so slow developing that it felt like the Nuggets were just standing around. Then the Spurs came down the court and ran all kinds of actions all over the floor and whipped the ball around the perimeter for an open look. It was the well-oiled machine against the still thinking players and should give a glimpse into what things will look like when the Nuggets finally have all their pieces in place and comfortable sometime next year.
- The Spurs play incredibly fun, beautiful basketball. It was just a joy to watch.
Next up: Friday, March 28 @ 7:00 p.m. (MST) vs. San Antonio. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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