Posted on April 26, 2019, by Travis Pulver
When a team is a 7-seed in the playoffs, like the San Antonio Spurs, the expectations for it are minimal. Fans hope they make the 2-seed, in this case, the Denver Nuggets, work for it. But they know the 2-seed should ultimately come out on top.
If that is going to happen this year, the Nuggets are going to have to do it in seven after getting beat by the Spurs, 120-103, in San Antonio Thursday night.
The Spurs took charge of the game early on and got out to a ten-point lead after the first quarter, 34-24. But the Nuggets had been in this position before with the Spurs and knew how to respond. They quickly narrowed the gap in the second quarter and eventually took the lead, 50-47, after a Jamal Murray basket at the 3:52 mark.
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But San Antonio was able to battle back and regain the lead going into halftime, 64-60.
A hotly contested third quarter saw the Spurs remain in front and add onto their lead (a little) heading into the fourth quarter. However, a five-point lead (90-85) would be easy for the Nuggets to overcome if San Antonio gave them the opportunity—so, they didn’t.
The Spurs plunged the dagger into Denver’s comeback hopes with a 17-2 run to start the quarter, extending the lead to 20-points, 107-87. Denver got within 16-points but never really threatened to take control of the game.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 26 points followed by DeMar DeRozan with 25. Rudy Gay chipped in another 19 off the bench. Derrick White (13 points) and Bryn Forbes also scored in double-figures. DeRozan had this to say after the game, via ESPN:
“They’ve been great at throwing a punch at us and running away with it. We tried to sustain that and understand whatever they do we have to match it, be more aggressive, understand we have to keep our rhythm, being aggressive on both ends and we did that.”
Nikola Jokic did his best to carry the Nuggets to a win, but he needed more help than he got. He ended up finishing the night one assist shy of a triple-double with 43 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists. While Denver dominated in the paint scoring 72 points to 36 for the Spurs, they struggled to hit shots outside of the paint (8-31).
San Antonio had its best night from behind the three-point line hitting ten of 24 shot attempts (41.7 percent) since Game One (seven of 15; 46.7 percent). They held Denver to just 25 percent from behind the arc (six of 24).
Of course, the hard part for San Antonio now is going to be doing it all over again when the series heads back to Denver for Game Seven on Saturday. Denver is favored to win the game; the spread is currently 5.5 points.
The winner will move on to face the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Semifinals.