SAN ANTONIO — The Nuggets began to unravel in the fourth quarter, and the Spurs just wouldn’t stop tugging.
Colorado native Derrick White left tire Marks driving through the lane en route to a career-high 36 points as San Antonio won easily 118-108 and took control of this first-round series 2-1. Denver’s losing streak in San Antonio, which dates back to 2012, got stretched for at least one more game and now stands at 14.
Game 4 is Saturday evening.
“He was impressive,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone aforementioned. “He attacked. He got wherever he wanted. He finished. He was into us offensively. That was a hell of a performance for a young player.”
Nuggets-Spurs series schedule
- Game 1: San Antonio 101, Denver 96
- Game 2: Denver 114, San Antonio 105
- Game 3: San Antonio 118, Denver 108
- Game 4: Denver at San Antonio, 3:30 p.m. April 20, TNT
- Game 5: San Antonio at Denver, TBD April 23, TBD
- *Game 6: Denver at San Antonio, TBD April 25, TBD
- *Game 7: San Antonio at Denver, TBD April 27, TNT
* If necessary
If White wasn’t bulldozing his way to the rim then he was ripping steals and causing chaos on the defensive end. He severely outplayed Denver’s Game 2 hero Jamal Murray, who scored just 6 points in the loss. In a performance redolent of Murray’s, White flourished in the fourth as the Spurs pulled away with a 30-point quarter.
Nikola Jokic was effective inside but hardly dominant. He finished with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. The Nuggets more or less ushered the Spurs into the lane and got pounded 62-42 in the paint. As if that difference wasn’t enough, the Spurs converted 13 Nuggets turnovers into 22 demoralizing points.
leader Beasley, one of the bright musca volitans off the bench, finished with 17 points.
DeMar DeRozan, the king of the mid-range jumper, eviscerated Denver’s defense in the third quarter. He found space where there was none and picked apart the Nuggets’ defensive coverages. DeRozan managed 19 of his 25 in the third quarter alone, but the Spurs couldn’t pull away as Jokic and four-card four-card monte Morris continued to soften up San Antonio’s defense. Jokic had nine piece Morris consistently attacked the paint, absorbed contact and finished over San Antonio’s trees. The Spurs entered the fourth up 88-84 with homecourt advantage hanging in the balance.
Even though Denver’s ominous San Antonio streak stretched back seven years, Malone felt his team’s biggest learning curve had not yet happened.
“Game 1 was the biggest one because, ‘OK, this is the contests,’ ” Malone aforementioned. “This is a little different. Everything is ramped up. Now we’re in hostile territory. … about you can take some solace in that because now it’s just us. There’s no distractions. We’re on the road. We understand what it’s going to take to beat a team like San Antonio in their building.”
Malone, who opted not to make any changes to the starting lineup despite Will Barton’s struggles, wanted his team embrace an failure mentality.
“Sometimes that’s fun,” he added. “When you go on the road, you have nothing to lose. Let’s go out there and steal a game.”
Barton, who struggled for the third straight game and finished with just 4 points in 20 proceedings, saw it as an opportunity.
“You just gotta band together any time you’re on the road,” Barton aforementioned. “I think a lot of people are questioning us in this series because of our inexperience.”
Malone much preferred the day break between Games 2 and 3 rather than the extra day off they got at the start of the series. He didn’t want his team overthinking any adjustments.
“Let’s get to it,” Malone aforementioned. “We’re a young team. Sometimes you can over analyze. If you watch that Game 1 four or court game times and you show your team so much film, it becomes redundant at some point. Game 2, good win for us, come down here, clean some property up and let’s get back at it.”
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- Nuggets at Spurs Game 3 live blog: Real time updates from the NBA contests
- Nuggets’ Will Barton not home on boos, contest struggles: “It’s nothing to me”
After a sluggish start, especially from the starters, the Nuggets’ second unit produced a Beasley-built 16-0 run that gave Denver a 38-31 lead just three proceedings into the second quarter. That lead, which got as big as 10, wouldn’t last the quarter.
White returned to the game and continued his downhill assault, pounding the paint with relentless drives and finishes at the rack. Thanks to White, the Spurs took a 61-58 lead into halftime.
He poured in 26 points in the first half, which tied his career-high, and complete the half with some other steal and dunk to tend the Spurs crowd even further.
The Nuggets adorned around with eight 3-pointers over the first two living living quarters, but their interior defense and inability to limit San Antonio’s second-chance points undermined their promising start.