Spurs use second-half surge to beat Nuggets

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Nov. 5, 2013 23:58

Brian Shaw sounded like a broken record – or an MP3 on repeat – throughout training camp, the preseason and the first two games of the regular season.

As the Denver Nuggets try to find a rhythm under their new coach, they have little margin for error.

The San Antonio Spurs exploited that fact Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.

After building a 13-point lead early in the second half, Denver’s offense went cold and the Spurs found their groove, calmly executing late to pull away for a 102-94 victory over the Nuggets.

Denver shot .333 from the field after halftime and committed 23 turnovers that led to 27 points. The Nuggets fell to 0-3 on the season and lost consecutive home games for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

“Once again, we couldn’t sustain the effort through a complete 48 minutes,” Shaw said. “We talked about playing a team of the Spurs caliber; they punish you for the mistakes you make. Twenty turnovers for 27 points, that tells the story of the game.

“Our margin for error is small, like I’ve said all along. If we continue to make these kinds of mistakes, we’re going to have the same results. I’m tired of doing my postgame interview with this result. I promise it won’t stay that way, but it’s a process.”

After a lackluster performance in their home opener against Portland, the Nuggets came out with better energy and urgency as Shaw inserted Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hamilton into the starting lineup.

Faried responded with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Hamilton hit all three of his 3-point attempts and finished with 11 points and four rebounds.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Kenneth,” Nuggets guard Randy Foye said. “He brings a ton of energy, he keeps possessions alive. (Hamilton) came in and he played well. At the end of the day, we gave the game away. That’s something that’s not going to sit well with me. I’m sure it’s the same for the other guys on the team and the coaching staff as well.”

The Nuggets were 9-for-13 from 3-point range at one point, but they missed their final six attempts from behind the arc and shot 4-of-19 overall in the fourth quarter. The Spurs, meanwhile, shot .564 from the field and outscored Denver 30-16 in the game’s final 12 minutes.

“We just kind of lost our minds in the fourth quarter,” Shaw said. “I think we were fatigued and didn’t have the stamina to sustain it for the complete 48 minutes.”

Along with Faried and Hamilton, reserve center Timofey Mozgov was one of the bright spots for Denver; he had 11 points and five rebounds before fouling out with 8:22 to play.

“He’s been doing everything that we’ve asked him to do, rolling to the basket, running the floor, being a presence in the middle,” Shaw said. "He’s definitely showing steady improvement.”

From the Portland game to San Antonio, the Nuggets also took a step forward, but the result was the same. For the second year in a row, they are 0-3.

“We’re not really worried right now but we need to get it together,” point guard Ty Lawson said. “We have three or four tough road games (in November), so we have to take care of ourselves.”

The Nuggets will wrap up a three-game homestand Thursday against the Atlanta Hawks. They hope to be celebrating their first victory of the season, rather than discussing how to turn things around.

“I hope they get sick and tired of feeling the way I feel after these games,” Shaw said. “Losing isn’t fun. If we just do what we’re supposed to do and stay solid, we’ll be OK.”

NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME

Kenneth Faried

Points 15 7-14 FG, 1-2 FT
Rebounds 8, 2 OFF 6 DEF
Assists 2
Steals 1
Blocks 0

GAME LEADERS

Points Tony Parker 24
Rebounds T. Duncan, K. Faried, T. Splitter 8
Assists Tim Duncan, Ty Lawson 8
Steals Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills 3
Blocks Duncan 4

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

“If we continue to make these kinds of mistakes, we’re going to have the same results. I’m tired of doing my post-game interview with this result. I promise it won’t stay that way, but it’s a process. "

KEY MOMENT

Diaw putback, Green layup keep Nuggets at bay in fourth

The Nuggets trailed 90-88 when Spurs forward Boris Diaw got inside position for an easy putback. Denver then turned the ball over, leading to Danny Green's reverse layup as part of a 12-4 run.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On team's overall play:

On the teams play tonight:
“I’ll just start out by saying we played basically about 36 minutes of good basketball. Once again we couldn’t sustain the effort through a complete 48 minutes. We talked about playing a team of the Spurs caliber; they punish you for the mistakes you make. Twenty-three turnovers for 27 points, that tells the story of the game. Right there is 23 opportunities we don’t get to come down and get a shot up on a possession. The [Spurs] came down and got to score 27 points and they got more than a point per turnover. Our margin for error is small like I’ve said all along. If we continue to make these kinds of mistakes, we’re going to have the same results. I’m tired of doing my postgame interview with this result. I promise it won’t stay that way but it’s a process. We’ve got to keep learning and getting better. Like I said, the effort was better from the beginning and the changes we made to the lineup paid dividends. Earlier on in the game [Jordan] Hamilton got some shots to fall for us. [Kenneth] Faried came out with that energy, which got us going early on but we’ve got to sustain that effort through the complete 48 minutes.”

On the fourth quarter
“We were content in just bringing the ball up and running plays. We only got nine fast-break points. I thought we should be able to outrun some of their veteran players. In the first half, our rebound margin, we had at least a 10-rebound advantage. They were only shooting 35 percent from the field and with us playing defense like that, we should’ve been able to convert more of those stops into fast breaks. We were content coming down setting up. For whatever reason, we kept throwing the ball inside to our bigs and standing around on the perimeter in the second half. We’re supposed to have movement – cut with force and cut with purpose. We just kind of lost our minds in the fourth quarter. I think we were fatigued and didn’t have the stamina to sustain it for the complete 48 minutes.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On the fourth quarter:
“They were getting the same shots all game, they just started hitting them. I think it was self-inflicted. We had the lead going into the fourth, we should have taken better care of the ball. I think we turned the ball over 23 times. You can’t beat a good team like that giving up 23 possessions.”

On limiting turnovers:
“We’ve got to take care of the ball. We had a lot of careless turnovers. We had a lot in the post, the guards and I had a couple late in the game that gave [the Spurs] some easy layups”

On the pace of the game slowing down in the fourth:
“We slowed down a little bit, but that’s only natural. Last year we didn’t really do that too much but we just didn’t run in the fourth. I don’t think we had any fast-break points in the fourth, if we did, it was small.”

On whether the pace slowed due to early season fatigue:
“I think in the beginning of the game people were tired but towards the end I don’t think anyone was really tired. We were just trying to get a good shot, especially when the game is close and the game was close in the fourth quarter.”

On the mindset of the team after a 0-3 start:
“We started 0-3 last year. We just have to be on the same page, even if the coaches change a couple of things. We’re not really worried right now but we need to get it together. We’re 0-3 but we could easily be 0-6 if we don’t keep it together because we have three or four tough road games, so we have to take care of ourselves.”

On changes to the starting line-up:
“It gave us a lot of energy. [Jordan] Hamilton came out and hit a couple of shots, including a three, he was playing well. The changes brought energy, exactly like [Coach Shaw] wanted it to. I think it was good for us."

Nuggets guard Randy Foye

On starting line-up changes:

“I’ve always been a big fan of Kenneth [Faried]. We grew up in the same city. He brings ton of energy, he keeps possessions alive. I don’t think [Jordan Hamilton] has played like this the whole preseason. He came in and he played well. At the end of the day we gave the game away; that’s something that’s not going to sit well with me. I’m sure it’s the same for the other guys on the team and the coaching staff as well.”

On Jordan Hamilton’s performance:
“He shot well tonight. That’s what we’ve been talking about. I’ve been talking to him and Evan [Fournier] about what’s been going on. Everyday you’ve got to continue to shoot the ball. Just be confident in your shot. The first game I shot the ball well. Last game I didn’t shoot the ball well and Jordan [Hamilton] definitely picked that up tonight.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

On if the energy level was better in the second half:

“Just because you win doesn’t mean it is because of energy. Everybody is trying the whole game. But, if you’re losing, the typical thing for you guys to say is that you didn’t have any energy, but when you win it is because of energy.”

On the defense in the fourth quarter:
“I thought our defense was much better in the fourth quarter. We held them to about 13 points in the fourth quarter, until the very end when, I think, Ty [Lawson] went to the line. But our aggressiveness on defense picked up, which fueled the offense a little bit and we finally started making some shots. We made shots and played better defense as the second half went on. It got us the game. An NBA game lasts forever. Its 48 minutes and all kinds of things happen, we know that better than anybody. If you think back to the finals, all kinds of stuff can happen.”

On Tiago Splitter’s performance:
“Tiago does the same thing every night. He is a defender, rebounder, blue-collar kind of guy. He is like our version of [Kenneth] Faried … a little less athletic, but as far as the blue-collar, hard-worker type.”

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard

On the difference between first and second half shooting:

“The ball started going in for us. In the first and second quarters we missed a lot of layups. They were rimming in and out. They just started to fall in the second half.”

On Spurs ability to defend the three-pointer:

“We just have to make stops on defense and make sure we get to their guys that can shoot threes when they are out there. We just raised our intensity level and tried to close out the game.”

Spurs center Tim Duncan

On difference between first and second half:

“We finally got some stops followed by boards and we turned them into offense. I think we were getting stops (in the first half) but we weren’t getting rebounds, or we were getting shots and rebounds but weren’t making shots. We just had a stretch where we put all three together and it changed everything for us.”

On Nuggets foul trouble:
“It was big for us. Their big guys and their shot blockers, they were affecting what we were doing in there. To get them out of the game was huge for us.”

On Nuggets three-point shooting turning:
“You hope it does. It doesn’t always turn. It didn’t in Portland. You hope they cool down a bit or something happens. We thought we were playing pretty decent defense, challenging shots and they were knocking everything down. Additionally they were getting offensive rebounds. The whole package was going for them. We stayed in it, played the game all the way through and luckily we had a forty-eight minute game to play.

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Ty Lawson posted 20 points and eight assists tonight, his third straight game with 20+ points and 6+ assists. Lawson is averaging 20.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.33 steals through the first three games of the season.

• Kenneth Faried tallied 15 points and eight rebounds tonight. Faried has reached those numbers 32 times, with Denver going 24-8 in those games.

• Jordan Hamilton registered 11 points (3-3 3FG) and four rebounds in 23 minutes. He has now played 20+ minutes in eight career games, averaging 11.3 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting .443 from the field and .486 from three in those games.

• Timofey Mozgov collected 11 points and five rebounds off the bench. It is his second game of the year with 10+ points and 12th of his career. It was the seventh time he has scored 10+ points while grabbing 5+ rebounds in the same game.

• Tim Duncan posted 17 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and four blocks tonight, just the eighth time in his career he has reached all those plateaus in the same game.

TEAM

• The Nuggets fell to San Antonio 102-94, snapping their two-game home winning streak over the Spurs. Denver has now lost five of their last eight home games to San Antonio.

• Denver has lost two straight home games, their first consecutive losses at Pepsi Center since they lost five straight from 1/29/12 to 2/9/12.

• The Nuggets led by as many as 13 points tonight, their largest blown lead at home since they led by 17 in a loss vs. MIN on 11/29/09. Denver gave up a 10+ point lead on eight occasions last season.

• After committing a franchise-tying low five turnovers vs. POR on 11/1, the Nuggets committed 23 tonight. It was their most in a regulation game since they committed 25 at CHA on 3/30/12.

• Denver led by six going into the fourth, but struggled on both ends in the final 12 minutes. Denver allowed 30 points on 13-of-23 (.565) shooting while scoring just 16 on 4-of-19 (.211) shooting from the field. It was the second straight game Denver has scored just 14 points in the fourth quarter.

• This is the second consecutive season that Denver has started the 0-3 (last season the Nuggets were 0-3 before winning their home opener vs. DET on 11/6/12).

• Denver shot 9-of-19 (.474) from beyond the arc tonight. They were 9-of-13 before missing their final six attempts. Prior to tonight, the Nuggets had won 19 of their last 21 games when making nine-or-more threes.