Mar 4, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) shoots against San Antonio Spurs guard James Anderson (25) during the first half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE
Team wins propelled the Nuggets early in the season, along with some strong play from Ty Lawson. The Nuggets have jumped out to a 3-0 start after the All-Star break and put on a show in San Antonio with an impressive 99-94 win that saw Lawson hit the game winner, secure a big rebound, and put the final two nails in the Spurs coffin. This is the team George Karl wants to see night-in and night-out.
- Game starts and Timofey Mozgov is back after spraining his ankle in the Houston game, good to see. He's out there with the usuals (for now) Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Kenneth Faried, and Corey Brewer. Mozgov gets the ball inside early and gets fouled by DeJuan Blair ... Moz and Blair banged knees and Blair is down. Not good to see a scary injury for the talented big man for the Spurs. Moz hits both free throws and Blair is taken to the locker room, hope he's okay.
- At the 10:19 mark we learn that Kosta Koufos isn't available tonight, I think Chris Marlowe said knee tendinitis? That's not good ... maybe we'll see some Chris Andersen tonight or just a lot of small ball? We'll see. Nuggets up 6-2 now and a decent start as the defense is active and the offense is moving the ball.
- We are at the 5:45 mark and the crowd erupts for Al Harrington ... wait, it might be for Manu Ginobili who is playing in his first home game since Dec. 31st. Wow, Spurs fans are happy to get their super flopper and great player back. Manu nails a three to start things off and it's 19-15 Nuggets. Spurs making a comeback as they are red-hot from beyond the arc ... why wont the Nuggets extend the perimeter defense?
- Nuggets lead after one 25-17, Afflalo put up 9 points and is playing with a renewed confidence. Birdman did enter the game for the final few minutes in the quarter. Loving the effort by the Nuggets tonight, I'm a bit worried about the second unit without Koufos and I'm scared of the lack of perimeter defense by Denver, as well.
- Quarter begins with Andre Miller, Ty Lawson, Jordan Hamilton, Harrington, and Birdman. Bird with a steal out near the three-point line and it's 27-17 Denver. Gary Neal nails another three for the Spurs and it's 27-20. Gotta stop these threes!
- At the 8:31 mark and it's 38-24 Denver. The Nuggets are attacking the rim and that's opening up the floor for them and the Spurs don't have anyone who can protect the paint, even with Tim Duncan. Blair is back on the Spurs bench, good sign. Let's see how long this second unit for Denver can play with high energy ... another steal and it's 40-24 Nuggets after a 2-on-1 break with Brewer and Miller and 'Dre finishing.
- The Spurs erase a 16-point Nuggets lead and it's 46-45 ... wow, a 21-6 run. How can those types of runs even happen? Well, with just over five minutes left in the quarter the Nuggets wasted a few opportunities, got cold from the field, some goal tends by Faried (questionable) and started fouling the Spurs left-and-right.
- Nuggets up 49-45 at the half, their once 16-point lead has been erased and it's going to be another dog-fight down in Texas. Denver finally responded to the Spurs run with a 3-0 (3-4 on free throws) one of their own ... hopefully more of that to come in the second half for the Colorado squad. Brewer played a ton of minutes in the first half and isn't shooting well, sure will be good to have Danilo Gallinari back in a few days.
- Spurs start with the ball and they get called for three-seconds, Nuggets ball. Denver using the same starters here that were used to begin the game, no changes for Karl. Nuggets turn it over as well as they fumble the offensive board and Faried gets called for a foul ... rough game for the rookie.
- At the 9:52 mark, Mozgov goes for the block on Blair and comes down stepping on Blair on his left ankle ... are you effing kidding me? If it wasn't for bad luck, Mozgov wouldn't have any luck at all. To the locker room he goes with the score 54-49 Denver after Lawson hit a three on the other end. Karl goes small with Faried at the five as Big Al is now in for Moz, no Birdman.
- At the 7:12 mark, Faried comes up with a loose ball after Big Al knocks it out of Duncan's hands ... Kenneth dishes ahead to Lawson and Ty leaves it for Faried for a power dunk over Matt Bonner. Denver is up 58-51 and still playing aggressive defense and attacking offense. They'll need to continue in this fashion in order to have a chance to win it.
- And it's 75-71 after three, now it's winning time. Can the Nuggets close out the Spurs? Mozgov is back on the bench with the team and he's in uniform, can't hurt the Moz!
- To start it's Miller, Hamilton, Brewer, Big Al, and Birdman. Jordan goes HAM and hits a three to make it 78-71 ... nice shot rookie! Miller misses a two, Richard Jefferson gets two attempts at a corner three and nails the second one and it's 78-74 Nuggets and now 78-76 as TJ Ford hits a jumper. Lead is just disappearing ... quickly. Spurs with the momentum, would be a good time for a timeout, but we play on ... this unit for Denver is lacking a little something. Lawson is back in for Brewer as Ty has been playing well and has been very aggressive tonight, he nails a three to make it 81-76 Nuggets with nine minutes left.
- At the 7:49 mark Faried is back in ... makes me comfortable knowing the glass is in good hands. AAA nails a three and it's 84-78 and on the other end the Spurs get another foul and they are now in the bonus ... quick whistles against the Nuggets (22-10 Nuggets leading in fouls).
- With 3:55 to go Karl is going with Lawson, Miller, AAA, Al, and Faried. The Nuggets are up 91-88 and the Spurs are hanging around with some big big shots. As I type Lawson finds Faried on a little pick and roll and the dunk makes it 93-88 Nuggets (2:50 left).
- The Nuggets win 99-94 in San Antonio. What a win by the Nuggets. Lawson buries the winning jumper in the final minute and secures the win with two big free throws off a nice rebound following a Gary Neal missed three to tie the game. Denver wins the quarter 24-23.
Can't say enough about this win. Denver was without Gallo, Nene Hilario, Rudy Fernandez, Kosta Koufos, and Mozgov only played 13 minutes after spraining his left ankle once again. A great team win led by Lawson who had 22 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, and only 1 turnover. This was the third game in a row where Lawson was the difference maker for the Nuggets and playing at a level we haven't seen since the beginning of the season.
Faried continued to impress with some gutsy free throws at the end, 2-4, and hustle that led to 11 points, 2 blocks, and 5 rebounds for the rookie. He was out of his comfort zone a bit having to cover Matt Bonner, who camps out outside, but Faried was a pest on the boards and made his presence felt. For the third game in a row, the Nuggets out-rebounded their opponent, 49-40, as everyone that played over 10 minutes had at least 4 rebounds. Birdman came in and played some nice spot minutes for Koufos and Mozgov and had 5 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Miller (5-18) and Brewer (4-11) didn't have much going offensively, but they each came up with some big plays as Miller hit a clutch shot late and grabbed 6 boards and Brewer ran the break well and went 4-4 from the foul line. It must be noted that Karl's small ball worked tonight as Faried was working hard inside and the team was really active and doing a great job on defense and controlling the glass.
This Nuggets team is getting back to playing the team ball style that won them a lot of games early in the season and it's great to see the renewed energy for this second half push. Winning in San Antonio has only been done three times this year and the Nuggets are now one of the teams to have beaten them on their own court.
Big win, feels good to be a Nuggets fan right now ...
Nate_Timmons on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Nate_Timmons