Nikola Jokic scored 25 points, had 10 assists, and grabbed nine rebounds as the Denver Nuggets defeated the San Antonio Spurs 106-96 on Wednesday night.
Jokic was on the verge of his 13th triple-double of the season. Michael Porter Jr. had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the first game of a two-game series in Denver.
The Nuggets have won seven straight games and have not lost in six since acquiring Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee in trade deadline deals. Gordon scored nine points, and McGee came off the bench to provide energy in the second half.
“At this point of the season we’re good,” Jokic said. “At the beginning of the season we were trying to find ourselves but right now we’re playing really well.”
For San Antonio, Derrick White and Dejounte Murray each scored 18 points. The Spurs will play five games on the road after going 2-7 at home, including a 24-point loss to Cleveland on Monday night.
“Poor play by too many people,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Second team’s got to play better. You just look at the plus/minus from the last few games – first team is doing pretty well, but off the bench we’ve been just destroyed and it happened again tonight.”
The teams will reconvene on Friday night.
Denver coach Michael Malone received two technical fouls and was ejected with 5:32 remaining in the first half for yelling at officials following a Jokic turnover.
“Physical play,” Malone said. “That’s been brewing for a while and my job as a head coach is to fight and protect all of my players, and tonight I did that.”
The Nuggets led 54-50 at halftime, but the Spurs opened the third quarter on an 18-4 run to take a 10-point lead. Denver scored the next 11 points and finished the third quarter on a 23-6 run to take a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Denver quickly built a double-digit lead and increased it to 20 points on Porter’s 3-pointer.
“We gave them a lot of second chances,” said Murray, who returned after missing a game with a sore right foot. “We got to play through it. We got to play through it. We got to toughen up and play for 48 minutes.” –ESPN