SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs knew what to expect from the Denver Nuggets coming into Game 4. What they did not expect was to go cold when it mattered the most.
Despite a solid first quarter, the Spurs would fall 117-103 to the Nuggets in Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at the AT&T Center on Saturday afternoon.
The loss sees the series even at two games apiece after four games and now it becomes a best-of-three.
“The Nuggets competed and we did not,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said. “It was a disappointing loss because the Nuggets played harder and smarter than we did. It’s the playoffs, so to have a performance like that was very disappointing.”
Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs, as well as three standout players: LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, and Patty Mills.
- The Spurs came out strong in the first quarter, as they took a 12 point lead early on.
- LaMarcus Aldridge finally went off in the game as he seemingly figured out Plumlee and Jokic’s defense.
- Patty Mills finally broke out of his slump as he led the way for the Spurs off the bench.
- Denver dominated the game after the second quarter, outscoring the Spurs 95-69 in the final three quarters.
- The second and the third quarter were the killers for San Antonio, as Denver scored 32 and 37 points respectively.
- Rudy Gay continues to struggle in the series as he went 0-for-7 from the floor, scoring just two points on the day. Since Game 1, Gay has scored just six points on 4-for-24 shooting. Not good series for the 32-year-old, who will be a free agent this summer.
- Denver’s lineup change of inserting Torrey Craig worked out as he scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic combined for 57 points in the win.
- The Spurs’ bench continues to struggle as Marco Belinelli, Davis Bertans, and Gay combined for nine points on 3-for-16 shooting.
- Derrick White struggled after going off for his career-high in Game 3. Mills outplayed White in Game 4 as Derrick had just eight points on 3-for-8 shooting and four turnovers. Credit Denver’s defense for disrupting him, which in turn stopped San Antonio’s ball movement from flowing.
Three Standout Players:
The Spurs forward was easily the best player on the floor for the Spurs on Saturday as he seemed to finally figure out Denver’s post defense.
Aldridge finished with 24 points on 55 percent shooting to go along with nine rebounds. He drew fouls on Jokic and backed down Plumlee, as well as took advantage of mismatches.
“They wanted it more,” Aldridge said. “They outplayed us. We didn’t make shots and we didn’t execute on defense as well as we have been. Their backs were against the wall and they played like it.”
The Spurs guard did what he has done all season and remained aggressive all afternoon long but he would end the game early.
DeRozan finished with 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the floor and sliced his way to the basket, drawing fouls and getting an explosive dunk. His day would end early as he was ejected for throwing the ball towards the official after arguing a charging call.
“We gave them runs and couldn’t capitalize,” DeRozan said. “Every time we made a mistake or missed shots, they made us pay. Role guys came up big for them and hit big shots.”
The lone bright spot of the San Antonio bench was no doubt Patty Mills, who had his best game of the series.
Mills scored 12 points on 50 percent shooting and drew two different three-point shot attempts, getting fouled on both as he came off the screen. Hopefully, Mills’ play can ignite his fellow second unit members going into the final three games of the series.
The Spurs and Nuggets are tied at 2-2 in the best-of-seven series as the series now shifts to Denver for Game 5 on Tuesday night at 8:30 pm Central Time from the Pepsi Center.
Hmm I wonder what happens when the Spurs team decides to finally play all together like they’re supposed to play? No 0 / 7 from Rudy Gay, no getting upset from DeRozan. Bertan’s hitting his threes. Marco making his shots. Everyone producing like they’re supposed to. Will we get to see this?