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Recap: Denver Nuggets outlast the San Antonio Spurs

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NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets took on the San Antonio Spurs in a game where both teams started hot with 13 combined points through the first two minutes of the game. The Spurs gathered a quick early lead as they were shooting 5-of-7 to go up 11-6 and force the Nuggets to call a quick timeout with Michael Malone visibly frustrated by the level of play his team was putting out early on in the game.

Coming out of the timeout, Nikola Jokic hit Will Barton for a corner triple that stopped the run the Spurs had been on. Denver tied it up at 11 before a Spurs’ jumper put them back in the lead. A large scratch on the neck of Michael Porter Jr. led to a stoppage of play, and Jokic got a free dunk on the inbounds play to tie the game back up at 13 before a Keldon Johnson layup broke the tie once more.

Jokic had to take matters into his own hands after several bumps went uncalled before he drew an and-one foul on a Eurostep layup down the center of the lane, but the rest of the roster wasn’t coming along for the ride as he was dragging them into the game with nine of the team’s first 16 points. A Porter jumper to tie the game at 18 was quickly undone when he was beaten by Derrick White for a layup and a three-point play of their own.

A Patty Mills triple stretched the Spurs’ lead to six as the Nuggets were in a cold spell before Porter threw down a big dunk after blowing by Jakob Poetl. Jokic got another bucket to fall out of a Spurs’ timeout, and Porter got an offensive rebound putback to fall to tie the game up at 24 with 2:30 remaining. Porter and Rudy Gay traded buckets to tie the game at 26 before Gay hit another from 18-feet.

Another make by San Antonio made it a four-point game with 60 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Javale McGee quickly made an impact with an alley-oop dunk off the bench. Following a missed out of bounds call, the Spurs got a mid-range floater from Gorgui Dieng. JaMychal Green ended the first quarter with a putback dunk that brought Denver within two after a rough first quarter on the defensive end.

The Spurs scored a quick five points to start the second quarter before McGee got a floater to fall. A Morris jumper brought them within three as the second unit was working to keep pace with the Spurs with a big dunk from P.J. Dozier. Dieng went 1-of-2 at the line, and McGee tied the game up with another alley-oop from Barton. Misses and turnovers abounded from both sides before Porter got a jumper to fall with 7:00 remaining.

Another 1-of-2 trip at the line from San Antonio was answered by a tip-in from Jokic. DeMar DeRozan nailed a pair of free throws to bring them within one. After a few missed foul calls led to a turnover from Jokic, Malone let the refs have it before catching a double technical and being ejected from the game. DeRozan tied the game at 42 before Dejounte Murray got an easy layup to fall.

After a few misses, Jokic tied the game at 44 with his 15th point of the night before a high-banked jumper from Murray gave the lead back. Dunks from Gordon and Porter tied the game at 48 with just under 2:00 remaining in the first half before a long jumper by DeRozan took the lead back. Porter nailed three free throws before Dozier cashed a triple from the right wing to give Denver a four-point lead. Time expired with Denver leading 54-50 thanks to a late flurry of points.

DeRozan got the scoring started with a 10-foot jumper before Poetl tied it up at 54 with a floater. A bizarre series of offensive possessions from Denver allowed San Antonio to regain the lead before DeRozan stretched the lead to four before a Jokic turnover lead to a quick dunk and a 10-0 run from San Antonio and a Denver timeout. Poetl got a tip-in layup, and the Nuggets hadn’t scored for the entire first four minutes of the second half before Gordon willed a short jumper to fall.

A block by Porter led to two offensive rebounds for the Spurs and an open triple for Murray. Jokic got himself going with a spin down in the paint, but Murray cancelled it out with another 3-point bomb that stretched the lead to 10 before Jokic got another shot to fall. Jokic grabbed a loose ball and flipped it over his head for a two-point shot that brought Denver back within six with 6:09 remaining.

Coming out of the timeout, Denver forced a miss before Facundo Campazzo drilled a big triple. A 3-second violation gave Denver the ball which Gordon turned into a 3-point play to tie the game at 68. Denver took advantage of a sloppy play by San Antonio when Dozier got out and drew a foul on DeRozan which prompted a technical foul, but the team went just 1-of-3 at the free-throw line. A layup by White gave the Spurs their lead back before Jokic drew a foul on Gay.

Jokic knocked down a pair of free throws, and Denver was rolling after a slow start to the quarter. Gordon grabbed a ball away on a near turnover, and it turned into a layup for Jokic which is a play that served as a big momentum shift with 3:00 remaining. Dozier went 1-of-2 at the line before Denver shut down Dieng on defense. Jokic found Barton down the floor, but he was fouled by Mills which caused him to miss the open layup opportunity. Barton nailed both shots at the line which got the lead up to six.

Gay finally got the scoring going again with a 10-foot floater over McGee before Morris hit a triple from the corner. Mills knocked down a pair of free throws, but Morris got those two right back with a mid-range jumper. Denver ended the third quarter leading 81-74 which was a pretty big win considering the slow start they had coming out of the locker room.

Coming out of the quarter break, Mills got another two points to go before Dozier got himself to the line where he went 1-of-2. JaMychal Green got a 3-point triple to fall. A miss by Mills was followed up by a Barton triple before he drew a shooting foul to get himself to the line. Barton knocked down a pair, and the Nuggets’ lead had stretched to 14. Up by 13, Facu found Green for a huge dunk before Denver gave up a wide-open layup. McGee got in the action with a huge dunk that got the 4,000 fans in the arena on their feet.

Coming out of the Spurs’ timeout, the two sides traded some sloppy possessions, and Denver had multiple opportunities right at the cup that they missed before McGee eventually got sent to the line up 15 where he went 1-of-2. Following multiple empty possessions from both sides, Campazzo hit a triple in transition to stretch the lead to 19 with just over 5:30 remaining.

White hit a pair of free throws before the two sides traded turnovers and empty possessions. The Spurs had begun clearing the bench down by 17 with just over 4:00 remaining before Porter hit a triple for his first points of the second half which prompted Denver to empty out their reserves as well to get their young guys some minutes. The key moment of this game was clearly the ejection of Malone. The game was 41-42 before he got ejected, and Denver led by as many as 20 before the late run by San Antonio’s reserves cut into that margin for a final score of 106-96 which stretched Denver’s winning streak to seven heading into Friday night’s matchup with these same Spurs.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic - 25

Assists: Jokic - 10

Rebounds: Michael Porter Jr. - 10

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic - 25 points, 10 assists 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 11-of-18 field goal, 0-of-2 3-point, 3-of-4 free throw