Nuggets, Spurs tip off two-game series in San Antonio

NBA Basketball

The Denver Nuggets will have to dig deep for a reserve of energy when they square off against the host San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

It will be the first of two games in three days between the two teams in San Antonio.

The Nuggets travel to the Alamo City for the second game of a road back-to-back on the heels of a 120-114 overtime win in New Orleans on Wednesday. Nikola Jokic racked up 39 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, his fourth triple-double in just 19 games this season.

Eleven of Jokic’s points came in the extra period after he missed a 21-foot, last-second jumper that would have won the game in regulation.

Denver coach Michael Malone said after the game that there was a moment during overtime when he thought, “How lucky am I that I have the reigning MVP on the road in a close game?”

Will Barton added 20 points for Denver in the victory, with Monte Morris hitting for 11 and JaMychal Green and Aaron Gordon scoring 10 points.

The contests in San Antonio are the final two of a seven-games-in-13-days road trip for Denver, which has won three of the first five games on the sojourn.

“It feels like every city we go to we get a little smaller and smaller,” Malone said. “By the time we get to San Antonio, I hope I’m part of the team.”

“Mainly it’s about us just being together,” Green said, according to the Denver Post. “It’s a time for us to individually get to know each other off the floor.”

The Spurs return to the floor after a 121-109 home loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday. The game was the second of a road-home back-to-back for San Antonio, which lost at Phoenix on Monday and has now dropped two in a row after a season-high, four-game winning streak.

Derrick White paced San Antonio with season-high 26 points on Tuesday. Dejounte Murray had 15, Doug McDermott and Jakob Poeltl added 13 each and Bryn Forbes scored 12 points. Murray has his streak of double-doubles snapped at seven.

The game was the first of five at home over an nine-day stretch for the Spurs.

“That first game being a back-to-back after a road trip, we knew that would be tough energy-wise,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said afterward. “I thought we competed our ass off. Guys gave their effort. I was really happy with that.”

San Antonio surrendered 17 offensive rebounds in the loss that led to 21 points for the Knicks. Keeping New York off the glass was a difficult challenge, according to Poeltl.

“We were trying to load up the defense a little bit, show help for a lot of their physical drivers,” Poeltl said. “I think we got a couple tough bounces. They were in good positions, obviously, and they are good offensive rebounders. Maybe there was a lack of physicality on my part.”

San Antonio likely will be without forward Keldon Johnson against the Nuggets after he sprained his right ankle late in the first half of the loss to New York. An MRI performed Wednesday revealed no structural damage to Johnson’s ankle.

The Nuggets have won the past three games in the series, most recently beating the Spurs 102-96 on Oct. 22 in Denver.

–Field Level Media

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