Nuggets suffer third-straight loss as comeback attempt falls short in San Antonio

Denver Nuggets power forward Paul Millsap (left) draws a charge from San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the first half at AT&T Center.
Mar 4, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets power forward Paul Millsap (left) draws a charge from San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets suffered their third-straight loss Monday night after a 104-103 defeat in San Antonio to the Spurs.

With the loss, Denver’s record falls to 42-21, which moves them two games behind Golden State for first place in the Western Conference.

It all began with a poor first half for Denver as San Antonio took a 58-48 lead into the halftime locker, which was actually better then it could have been. Through one quarter of play, the Spurs led 36-17 as their lead got all the way up to 21-points. After shooting just 1-of-9 from three-point range in the first quarter, Denver was able to put together a phenomenal second period to make a game out of it going into halftime.

The Nuggets would end up outscoring San Antonio 31-22 in quarter number two, which was sparked by the play of Paul Millsap and Torrey Craig. What Millsap and Craig provided defensively was echoed on the offensive end of the floor, especially by Nikola Jokic. At the break, Jokic had 14 points on an almost perfect 7-of-9 shooting from the field to go along with his seven rebounds and two assists.

Denver would end up shooting just 3-of-16 from three in the first half, while compounding their shooting woes by committing six turnovers. Jokic was the Nuggets only player in double-figures through two quarters as Denver was looking for more offensive efficiency in half number two.

The Nuggets opened the third quarter strong — courtesy of a Jamal Murray three-pointer — which sparked an 11-6 run for Denver that cut San Antonio’s lead to 5-points.

San Antonio would not go away though as they kept that same 5-point lead for most of the quarter, until the Spurs went on a 18-5 run to bump their lead back up to double-figures. The Spurs would end up taking a 85-69 lead into the final quarter of play as Denver needed to put together a strong 12 minutes of play if they wanted to pull-off a comeback victory.

The Nuggets desperately needed a spark, which Malik Beasley provided by scoring a three-pointer to go along with an and-one basket to cut San Antonio’s lead to 14-points. That was with just over eight minutes remaining as the Nuggets had to buckle down defensively if they wanted to complete an improbable comeback.

Just a few minutes later, the Nuggets were able to cut that lead down to 11-points after a Murray three-pointer, which he did on Denver’s next possession to make it a 102-94 game with 3:03 remaining. Murray would add another three-pointer just a few possessions later before Will Barton hit another big shot for Denver to make it a 4-point game with just under two minutes remaining.

Murray would make another three-pointer in the final minute of play to make it a 1-point game as Denver just needed a stop to have a chance to steal a monster victory. Denver would get that stop as they ultimately had the ball with 13-seconds remaining and a chance to win the game. San Antonio would force a Denver turnover, but Rudy Gay missed both of his free-throws as the Nuggets had the ball — down 1-point — with three-seconds left and a chance to win. Denver would come up just short though as Gary Harris shot rimmed out to allow San Antonio to capture a 104-103 victory.

Stat leaders for Denver were Jokic, who finished with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field to go along with his 10 rebounds and six assists. Jokic would end up recording another double-double, while Murray led the team in points. The Nuggets point guard finished with 25 points behind six three-pointers as he did everything he could to get Denver back into the game. Beasley (15) and Barton (12) also finished in double-figures for Denver as they complimented the solid nights offensively from Murray and Jokic.

Denver now has a day off tomorrow before they are back in action Wednesday night in Los Angeles to face the Lakers.

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