SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs suffered an overtime loss at Atlanta on Sunday and did what great teams are supposed to do in the next contest - bounced back with a signature performance. The Spurs will try to follow up one of their best efforts of the season when they visit the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.
San Antonio went up against the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday and dominated the Toronto Raptors from start to finish in a 110-82 triumph.
"That's a hell of a basketball team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters of the Raptors. "I'm sure they had more energy at the beginning of the (six-game) road trip than they do now. They'll come back. We did take advantage of that, but I felt we played very well. We played with a lot of desire and a lot of fiber tonight."
The Nuggets are lacking that sort of fiber on the defensive end and are allowing an average of 123.7 points during a three-game slide.
"We have the worst defense in the NBA, that’s the bottom line," Denver coach Mike Malone told reporters after a 120-113 home loss to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. "It’s embarrassing how we go out there and attempt to defend every night. That’s something that we have to try to fix as soon as possible because it’s at an all-time low right now. That is a huge concern of mine."
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ABOUT THE SPURS (28-7): Veteran point guard Tony Parker is averaging 18.8 points on 56.9 percent shooting in the last four games and contributed to a defensive effort that held Raptors star point guard Kyle Lowry to single digits in scoring for the first time this season on Tuesday.
"Even when he's not making it, you know guys are having to respect him and get to that lane," star forward Kawhi Leonard told reporters of Parker. "His vision to see us out there, he's always drawing two guys, and someone's always open."
Parker added a season-high eight assists in 22 minutes in the win.
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (14-21): Malone said his team has "no veteran leadership" after Tuesday's setback, perhaps lighting a fire under some of his older players. Veteran small forward Danilo Gallinari, who scored 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting in Tuesday's loss and is averaging 20.5 points in the last six contests, disagreed with his coach.
"I don’t agree with that," Gallinari said, according to the Denver Post. "That’s definitely not the problem with this team. Every veteran on this team can agree with me. So, I don’t agree with that."
1. Nuggets PF/C Nikola Jokic is averaging 20.8 points on 58.6 percent shooting in the last five contests.
2. Spurs PF LaMarcus Aldridge is shooting 73.5 percent from the floor in the last five games.
3. Denver snapped a 10-game losing streak in the series with a 102-98 home win on April 8, when Popovich sat Aldridge, Leonard, Parker and SG Danny Green.