The Denver Nuggets looked every bit of the better team to start their game against the San Antonio Spurs in Austin, Texas tonight and then they looked every bit of a team falling into a trap game after that before ultimately taking control and taking care of business. Nikola Jokic had a huge night scoring while Aaron Gordon kept Victor Wembanyama in check. The Spurs didn’t have enough talent to hang with the Nuggets 48 minutes and ultimately Denver wore them down for a 117-106 victory.

Despite the presence of Wembanyama, the Nuggets made a concerted effort early to get to the rim and go up strong. That earned them a small lead in the early going. The Spurs pushed back from the three point line while Denver’s offense stalled and that put San Antonio in front. Jokic started to assert himself in response. He lead a 9-0 run to flip the script again and give the Nuggets a seven point lead. After that the Nuggets started knocking down threes and the Spurs started missing shots. The lead quickly ballooned to fifteen points. It was an absolutely abysmal close to the quarter for San Antonio. They kept turning the ball over and giving the Nuggets layups. Denver ended the first quarter leading 37-18.

Denver maintained their big lead to open the second quarter but the Spurs at least had stopped it from growing. The bench did a good job of keeping the defensive pressure on and keeping the Spurs from getting any sort of momentum (though Justin Holiday did have an unfortunate moment of blowing a wide open dunk). By the halfway point of the second the Nuggets lead was still right around eighteen. The Spurs looked tired and disinterested, culminating with Wemby watching Christian Braun go right by him for an uncontested dunk. However San Antonio found their energy towards the end of the half and cut the lead to twelve with about three minutes to go forcing Michael Malone to take a timeout. San Antonio’s strong play continued through to the close of the half. After two, the score was 58-49 Denver.

The poor play from Denver carried over into the second half and they opened with a couple turnovers. They were able to keep the Spurs at arm’s length though with San Antonio’s offense stalling out. The game stayed in the two to three possession range as it reached halfway through the third. The Nuggets started to build on the lead from there, including a monster jam from Michael Porter Jr and then a huge finish on an alley-oop from Peyton Watson. San Antonio wasn’t going down easily though and continued to get just enough offense to stay within striking distance. Zach Collins led the rally and when they got within four Malone was forced to take another timeout. Denver stopped the bleeding there and a buzzer beating Holiday three put Denver up 86-79.

Denver rode the momentum from the end of the third into the fourth and built the lead up a bit. Once again the bench was doing their part and carrying the Nuggets admirably through the non-Jokic minutes. With Murray staggering they got the lead back up to double digits. The Spurs went completely cold and it was starting to look like Jokic may not need to come back in the game at all. Denver kept canning threes and got the lead up to twenty. Jokic continued to rest while Wemby came back in but the Nuggets lead was too large for the Spurs to overcome in the time they had left. Wemby got in a highlight dunk and the Nuggets go the win 117-106.