Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Nuggets defeated the Spurs 112-106 in a high scoring affair at the Pepsi Center tonight. The Nuggets held a 15 point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Spurs would make a run.
"We came up short," said Gregg Popovich. "Gallinari just ripped our hearts out with those two threes. The one, Boris [Diaw] contested him better than anybody could contest him and he just drilled that sucker. So, give him credit. Making shots at the end of the games often win games and Gallinari did it."
The Spurs almost came all the way back. Facing a 15-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter and the same hole with just 8:49 left in the game, the Spurs would have one more run. The Nuggets did a great job of building a lead and keeping San Antonio at bay all night, but Patty Mills (Australian) and Tim Duncan had a little left in the tank.
Mills and Duncan scored a combined 10 points from the 8:49 mark to the 5:54 mark and cut Denver's lead to just five points at 100-95 after Mills buried yet another long range shot. Gallinari answered the Mills three on the next possession to extend Denver's lead back to eight points at 103-95, but it wasn't over.
"We asked them to dig down deep and they did," Popovich said. "They got themselves back in it. I just couldn't be more proud and that really shows the character of that group."
Pop's group would get a layup by Duncan and a three-pointer from Parker after Gallo's big three to cut Denver's lead to three at 103-100, but Andre Iguodala had an answer this time. Ty Lawson missed a three at the 4:03 mark that couldn't have been a better miss for an active offensive rebounder. The ball just died on the rim and Iguodala went up and stuffed it back in - bringing the home crowd to their feet.
Duncan would hit another easy layup and keep the Spurs within three at 105-102, but Gallo then hit the dagger. With the shot clock winding down and Diaw defending, Gallo would take and hit a step-back three pointer to seal the win for the Nuggets. The Spurs took a few heaves late, but missed all three and Denver escaped with the win.
"It was a great win," George Karl said. "I thought Gallo was great. I thought Iguodala was good. Corey [Brewer] off the bench was good. Kosta [Koufos] gave us a good effort on Duncan. Kenneth [Faried] was really sick [flu], but came out with a big number stat game."
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-Patty Mills hit 5-8 from downtown tonight for a total of 15 points. He was the only guy who could connect with consistency from long range and he hurt the Nuggets tonight. His speed on defense also played a role in Lawson committing yet another turnover late in a game. Nice game from Mills. The Spurs on the night were 14-36 from deep (38.9%).
-In the third quarter the Spurs went to a "hack a JaVale" strategy. McGee went to the line five times and was 4-10 from the foul line. I asked Popovich about it after the game and he said it was more about breaking up the Nuggets quick offensive pace and:
"They [Nuggets] were scoring every time. And were were running out of gas, running out of energy. So we figured if we could go up-and-down a few times and not even have to play any defense it might put some fuel back in the tank and it did," Popovich said. "During that period we couldn't knock down a couple of threes and it [the lead] stayed 9, 10, or 11 or whatever. We couldn't get below it [double digit lead] because we couldn't make a shot, but it gave us a little bit of rest and helped us stay in it."
-The Nuggets had 7 turnovers in the first quarter, but only 8 turnovers the rest of the way. I asked Karl after the game if he was surprised that Denver was able to get control of the turnovers despite still playing at a fast pace:
"I thought the second quarter we were really in to not turning the ball over [only 3 turnovers in the second], that was really good. I thought as the game went on we got our hands on a lot of their passes. That's the number that I would like to see balance out as the season goes on; we lower our turnovers and we start creating more turnovers."
Will turnovers lower with more time together on the court?
"I hope so. I think so," said Karl. "It might have been early in the season we were trying to throw the ball in the wrong places too. I think sometimes the way we play is a little more difficult to play than people think it is. I think Iguodala would probably say to you [that] it sounds really fun, but there is a lot of responsibility not to turn it over."
-Just a great team effort tonight. Denver got the Spurs to commit 14 total turnovers and 11 of those came after the first quarter to Denver's 8 in that same span. It felt like Iguodala and others were able to disrupt a lot of the Spurs cross-court and inside passes.
-The Nuggets had 29 fast-break points and likely won this game because they were able to get out in transition and get a lot of easy buckets. How about Gallo's alley-oop from Andre Miller? He was calling for that puppy and threw it down with authority.
-Denver out-scored San Antonio 50-42 in the paint, Karl was proud of that 50 points for Denver inside.
-The Nuggets had six guys in double figures and four guys with 14+ points on the night; led by Gallo's 28 point effort.
The Nuggets have a day off before facing the Blazers in Portland. Damien Lillard vs. Ty Lawson ... get ready!
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