The San Antonio Spurs hit the road for the first time in the 2021-22 season on Friday in Colorado, falling to the Denver Nuggets 102-96 at Ball Arena on the first night of a back-to-back.
The loss is the first of the season for San Antonio, which is embracing the youth movement and in the middle of a rebuild for the future. Despite the loss, this game will go a long way towards development for the young squad.
Here are three key points from the San Antonio Spurs loss to Denver on Friday:
On paper, this should have been a cakewalk for the Denver Nuggets. San Antonio is rebuilding while the Nuggets are an experienced, championship contender.
San Antonio trailed by as many as 11 points two different points in the game but never quit, rallying back to have a chance to win the game with five minutes remaining regulation. They constantly fought back and gave themselves a chance to win down the stretch.
“We continued to compete,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said of his team’s grit. “I thought it was more important at this stage of their learning curve.”
This game will be a long way towards the development of players like Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and others. If they can keep up this level of play as the season goes on, they will be competitive in more games than many think.
Both teams had issues keeping control of the basketball. San Antonio committed 21 turnovers and Denver gave the ball away 20 times. However, the Spurs’ turnovers led to buckets from Nikola Jokic, who posted 28 points and 16 rebounds on the night.
Despite those turnovers, the Spurs still gave themselves a chance to win. That will be key to their development, if San Antonio can reduce the turnovers while still forcing them, that will be a step in the right direction for this young team.
“Bad decision making,” Keldon Johnson said when asked about San Antonio’s turnovers. “It happens in basketball with young teams.”
One thing about this San Antonio Spurs team is they are young and have so much heart. Johnson finished with 27 points, two shy of his career-high, and Derrick White had 16 points.
Both Jakob Poeltl and Dejounte Murray added 15 points for the Spurs, who defeated Orlando on Wednesday in their season opener.
San Antonio never gave up and that’s already a positive sign for a young squad that they can hang with a playoff team like this early on in the season. And things won’t get easier with a looming date with the defending champions in 21 hours.
“I still feel like we could have won that game,” Murray said. “They just capitalized when it came down to crunch time. They made tough shots (down the stretch).”
The Spurs are now 1-1 on the season and will return to the court on Saturday night when they welcome the defending champion, Milwaukee Bucks (1-1) at the AT&T Center with tipoff set for 7:30 PM.