Spurs topple Nuggets 123-111, snapping two-game skid
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Derrick White had 23 points, Lonnie Walker IV added 21 and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed in beating the Denver Nuggets 123-111 on Thursday night, snapping a two-game skid.
Dejounte Murray added 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for San Antonio, which is in the middle of a five-game homestand.
“It was a good, competitive night,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “A lot of guys played well. We had one little period where we got a little sloppy, three or four turnovers, five or six possessions, there for a short period of time, but the defense held up and that allowed us to continue to play well.
“Turnovers at one end and not playing would have been a bad combo, but we avoided that.”
Nikola Jokic had 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his third straight triple-double and his fifth of the season for Denver.
The Nuggets entered the game third in the league defensively, limiting opponents to 104.5 points per game, but had no answers for the Spurs.
“It was unofficially double-digit blow bys for probably 20-plus points,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “Just sitting down guarding, whether it was Dejounte Murray, Derrick White (and) Lonnie Walker off the bench was a real difference maker in this game attacking us. Then when a guy got beat, there was no shrink, there was no help behind it. It was layup after layup.”
Walker finished 7 for 12 from the field, including 3 for 5 on 3-pointers.
“I just have to have that mindset of being aggressive,” Walker said.
San Antonio dominated, scoring 45 points on 3-pointers and 58 in the paint. San Antonio also had 32 assists, two shy of matching a season-high, while shooting 52% from the field.
Denver closes a seven-game trip Saturday in San Antonio.
The Nuggets pulled within two baskets on several occasions but never led while trailing by as many as 18 points.
“They had us on our heels,” Malone said. “Man, that’s the worst feeling in the world. We made a couple of runs to try to get back in the game a little bit, but we just couldn’t sustain anything.”
Aaron Gordon added 25 points and Will Barton had 19 for the Nuggets, who are continuing to battle injuries this season.
P.J. Dozier and Michael Porter Jr. are both out for the season and Jamal Murray is out indefinitely following knee surgery. Denver, which was 3-7 in its previous 10 games, was also without Austin Rivers due to health and safety protocols.
San Antonio opened the game 4 for 5 on 3-pointers in building a 22-12 lead. The Spurs set a season high with 37 points in taking an eight-point lead after the first quarter.
Jokic had 13 points in the second quarter, rallying Denver within 69-65 before San Antonio scored five straight to close the half. The Spurs set a season high for any half with 74 points in the first and matched another high with 37 points in the second quarter.
“I thought we did as good a job as we could possibly do on Jokic,” Popovich said. “He’s amazing.”
The Spurs were without starting forward Keldon Johnson due a sprained right ankle, but Devin Vassell returned from a three-game absence.
Nuggets: Denver is 3-3 on its longest trip of the season. ... Rivers missed his fifth straight while in the league’s health and safety protocols. He has played 18 games this season, averaging 3.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 17.5 minutes. ... Jokic had 32 points in the Nuggets’ 102-96 victory over the Spurs on Oct. 23.
Spurs: Johnson sprained his right ankle stepping on Poeltl’s foot late in the first half Tuesday against New York. Popovich said Johnson would not be available Saturday against Denver and is uncertain when he would return. ... Murray became the fastest player in franchise history with 3,000 points, 1,500 rebounds and 1,000 assists, doing so in his 276th career game. ... Bryn Forbes has 458 career 3-pointers with the Spurs, moving him past Chuck Person for 10th in franchise history.
Nuggets: At San Antonio on Saturday.
Spurs: Host Denver on Saturday.
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