Inside the Victory: Spurs 133, Nuggets 102 (16 straight wins)

On Wednesday when the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets met in San Antonio, after being down 24 points at one time, the Nuggets allowed themselves to get back into the game, by taking advantage of 15 second half turnovers from the Spurs.

Friday, with the Spurs rolling in the first half over the Nuggets once more, San Antonio only turned the ball over six times in the final 24 minutes, as they built a lead as high as 35 points and ended up setting a season high in points with a 133-102 victory in Denver.

Behind 27 points from Marco Belinelli and 20 points from Tim Duncan, six Spurs players scored in double-figures, while the team also collected 37 assists on the night. Here were some keys to the Spurs’ 16th straight win in a row.

The machine continues to roll in high gear

In a game where Tony Parker finished with four points and two assists in 19 minutes, the Spurs didn’t need to rely on just one player to help in earning the victory. Instead, San Antonio received contributions from across the board. The Spurs shot 56% from the field and made 13 of their 24 three point attempts, while also scoring over 30 points in each quarter of the game.

The one way to get those high-percentage shots was by moving the ball and passing up ‘good shots for great shots’ – San Antonio accomplished this task Friday. The ball movement was present as nine players touched the ball 40 or more times, while eight players threw 30 or more passes. The Spurs had 152 more touches than the Nuggets and threw 163 more passes in the match.

With just 14 turnovers overall, the Spurs were able to shoot almost of half of their shots uncontested. The Spurs had 57 contested looks and 54 uncontested looks, where they shot 57% on those uncontested attempts.

The Spurs also assisted on 67% of their made baskets, as they collected 37 assists, 11 of those being secondary assists, on 55 made baskets. What’s even more impressive, two big men and a forward led the team in assists rather than guards, as Tiago Splitter tallied seven assists, Boris Diaw collected five assists, and Kawhi Leonard passed for six assists.

As Danny Green had scored 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three by the first half on Wednesday before getting injured, Belinelli too came out with the hot hand from beyond the arc Friday, as he went into halftime with 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the 3-point line. Belinelli was the recipient of the team’s multitude of open passes as 11 of his shots were uncontested, as he shot 73% on those attempts.

Though he didn’t finish with 29 points like he did on Friday, Duncan still had his way with the Denver’s frontline as he finished the game with 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two blocks. Whether his looks were contested or uncontested, Duncan still shot over 50% against Denver’s defense in each type of shot selection.

Along with Duncan and Belinelli, Patty Mills scored 16 points off the bench and grabbed six rebounds, Kawhi Leonard made an impact on both sides of the floor with 14 points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals, and three blocks, Boris Diaw scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds, and threw five assists, and lastly, Austin Daye, who had scored 22 points on Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers, scored 11 points in 11 minutes, including shooting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Holding the Nuggets down in Denver

Though the Nuggets scored 102 points in the game, they had to work for a majority of their made baskets on the evening. The Spurs held the Nuggets to 40% shooting from the floor, and just 26% from 3-point range. The Spurs also limited the Nuggets’ production in the paint as San Antonio outscored Denver 64-42 in the paint. The Spurs’ defense contested 55 of the Nuggets’ shots, as Denver shot 38% on those looks, and San Antonio only gave away 35 uncontested looks on the evening. Though the Nuggets scored 59 points in the second half, the Spurs’ defense had held them to just 43 points in the first half. San Antonio also controlled the boards, outrebounding Denver 51-41.

Large lead = less minutes for core players

With the Spurs’ lead reaching the twenties range in the third quarter, Duncan, Leonard, and Parker all got the fourth quarter off from play. The Spurs’ core players who did play in the fourth didn’t have to spend too much time out on the court before being subbed out. With a back-to-back in San Antonio on Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans, here’s a look at the minutes played and miles ran from the Spurs’ core players Friday.

Belinelli (29:24 minutes, 2.3 miles), Splitter (26:21 minutes, 2.0 miles), Diaw (23:20 minutes, 1.7 miles), Leonard (22:51, 1.8 miles), Duncan (22:21 minutes, 1.6 miles), Mills (19:32 minutes, 1.6 miles), Parker (18:58 minutes, 1.4 miles), Ginobili (18:24 minutes, 1.3 miles).

A look into the 16-game winning streak

During their 16-game winning streak, the Spurs are beating teams by an average of 16.0 points per game. The Spurs are scoring 112.7 points, shooting 49.6% from the field, 43.8% from three, collecting 29.4 assists, and only turning the ball over 14.4 times per game. Defensively, they’re holding teams to 96.7 points per game during the streak.

The Spurs are ranked first in Offensive Rating with 112.4 points per 100 possessions and ranked second in Defensive Rating by holding teams to 97.7 points per 100 possessions during the streak.

10 Regular Season Games left

With 10 regular season games remaining and the Spurs holding onto the best record in the NBA at 56-16, San Antonio has a 3.0 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder (53-19) in the Western Conference and a 4.5 game lead over the Indiana Pacers (52-21) overall.

Where San Antonio Stands

  • Regular Season: 56-16 (Lead the NBA)
  • Road Record: 28-8 (Lead the NBA)
  • Vs. Opponents with -.500 records: 32-2 (Lead the NBA)
  • Vs. The Western Conference: 33-10 (Lead the West)
  • Post All-Star Break Record: 18-1 (Lead the NBA)
  • Since Kawhi Leonard returned from injury: 16-0
  • The Spurs are 14-0 in the month of March.
  • The Spurs are 31-0 when Tiago Splitter scores over 7 points in a game.
  • Of the Spurs’ 56 wins, 31 have been by double-figures.

(All Stats and Player Tracking data via NBA.com)

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

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