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News » Spurs can't overcome 19 turnovers in loss

Spurs can't overcome 19 turnovers in loss

Spurs can't overcome 19 turnovers in loss An hour before his Spurs took the court Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets at the AT&T Center, Gregg Popovich ticked off the priorities his team needed to avoid a second straight loss to one of the NBA's best teams.

"If we're doing good at the defensive end in transition and hitting the boards pretty well, then it's anybody's game," Popovich said. "Then it comes down to, hopefully, we don't shoot 2 for 16 from three and miss 10 of 17 from the free-throw line."

The Spurs had one of their better foul-shooting games of the season, making 26 of 31 (83.9 percent). They were respectable from long range, making 7 of 21 3-pointers.

They played tough, aggressive defense, and though they were outrebounded 38-31, they nearly matched Denver in second-chance points.

What could have gone so wrong for the Spurs to suffer a 106-99 loss, their second in a row and fourth at home this season?

That the Spurs' coach forgot to include turnovers in his pregame checklist may have been a Freudian slip.

Eighteen of those had helped doom Popovich's team in a Thursday loss to the Celtics, just as surely as inaccuracy from the 3-point and free-throw lines.

He got a reminder against the Nuggets of the importance of taking care of the Basketball. Denver scored 23 points off the Spurs' 19 turnovers, the most critical factor in the Nuggets' victory.

"In some ways, it looked like a repeat of the Boston game," Popovich said. "I was really pleased with the aggressiveness and hustle, but again it was the turnovers, for however many points, that was the killer."

The Spurs' five-game win streak, ended by the Celtics, seems a distant memory for a team that is 9-8 and headed to a Monday appointment in Salt Lake City with the Utah Jazz, who already have beaten the Spurs twice this season.

There was some old-fashioned misfortune involved in this loss, too.

Trailing 103-99 with 1:26 left, the Spurs forced an off-balance 3-point attempt by Carmelo Anthony that just beat the 24-second shot clock buzzer.

Anthony, who scored 34 points, missed badly, the ball bouncing high off the left side of the rim to a spot where three Spurs - Tim Duncan, Matt Bonner and Tony Parker - converged on the ball, without a Nuggets player in sight.

Somehow, the ball bounced out of the grasp of the three Spurs , back out to Anthony. That allowed the Nuggets to kill another 20 important seconds.

"Miscommunications," said Parker, "and some bad luck."

"Stuff happens," Duncan said. "Just adding on to what's going on right now. Just a bad play."

Still, turnovers sealed the Spurs' fate on this night, and Denver deserved credit for forcing many of them with aggressive double-teams on Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili.

"In the second half, our defense tuned in," said Nuggets coach George Karl. "Parker didn't have as much freedom as he did in the first half. We got our hands on a lot of balls, got a lot of deflections. When Parker and Duncan had the ball, we gave them both two guys and kept our hands active."

The Nuggets' active hands resulted in six Parker turnovers and two from Duncan.

"I don't have an answer," Duncan said. "It's happening. It's the reason we're losing these games. Defensively, we're actually playing good, but you turn the ball over and you give them another 10 to 15 opportunities to score the ball, eventually, they're going to do it.

"That's out main problem right now."

Anthony was problem enough, without the additional opportunities. The league scoring leader made only 4 of 11 shots in the first half, but was 10 of 16 in the second, including plenty of makes on well-defended possessions.

"He's rolling right now, playing some of the best Basketball I've seen him play, and I grew up with 'Melo," said Keith Bogans, the Spurs' defensive specialist who had first crack at slowing Anthony. "He makes shots most guys don't even think about making."

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 8, 2009


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