San Antonio – LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points, and DeMar Derosan added 25 to help San Antonio Spurs surpass 43th points by Nikola Djokic and win at Denver Nuggets with 120-103 on Thursday night, forcing Game 7 from the opening series.
Jokic had 27 points in the second half to announce the third highest point this post-season behind the 50s by Damian Lilard of Portland and 45 by Kevin Durant of Golden State. Jokic also finished with 12 rebounds and nine assists to reach as an assistant to his second triple double of the series.
Game 7 is a Saturday in Denver, where Nuggets has the best record on the home court during the regular season. The winner will face Portland.
Jamal Murray added 16 points and Gary Harris scored 14 points for the Leros.
In the quarter-finals, Spurs had 4 points for 9 points to beat Jokic's score.
San Antonio needed a win to continue the series after losing a 108-90 loss to Denver on Tuesday, in which Nuggets led with 30 points.
Spurs, however, had another warm start, overturned by the better second quarter of the Nuggets.
San Antonio climbed to a lead of 34-24 by shooting 67% of the pitch in the first quarter, while Denver missed all seven attempts of 3 points.
Derozan and Aldridge had a hand in the first 10 points of the Spurs, combining six points and four assists. Aldridge squeezed 3-point to set San Antonio 15:25 by 7:26, leading to Denver timeout.
Jokic kept Nuggets in the third quarter, scoring 17 points in the 8th to 9th shooting.
Spurs could regroup over the three-point line.
Marco Bellinelli looked to Greg Popovic after disappearing 3-point in the right-hand corner with only 11 minutes and the San Antonio coach nodded and applauded the guard. Popovic had a small smile when Bellinelli made his next 3 pointer a minute later.
Rudy Gay added 19 points and Bellinelli had nine.
Nuggets: Nuggets progressed out of the first round in eight of the 16 previous post-season appearances. Their previous progress was in 2009 when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the final of the Western Conference. … Denver used a rotation of nine players during the series. Juancho Eranghomez, Trey Lilles and Jared Vanderbilt played 18 minutes in the series. Isaiah Thomas is active, but not playing. … Murray stayed in the game after staying on the pitch for about 15 seconds after knee on his left hip on the screen of Jacob Poelt. Murray jumped after Naghetes called up the time, grabbed his left hip and worked to stretch it. He returned after the expiration and immediately squeezed the jumper.
Spurs: San Antonio is 23-9 against Denver in seven games for the season. The efforts of the Nuggets series during the Spurs came in the first round of the playoffs in 1985. … It was Popovic's 283 pop season, which took him to Pat Reilly for the coach for the second playoff. Former Bulls, and Lakers coach, Phil Jackson are at the top of the 333 career post-season gaming coach. … San Antonio surpassed 40,000 post-season points in franchise history, joining the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers as the only franchisees that exceeded that figure.
NO FREE GAMES
If not for a free meal, Popovic may not face such a difficult test from Denver's coaches, Michael Malone and Nuggets.
Malone and Popovic formed a friendship in 2005, working together for a week during the NBA Basketball Without Borders in Argentina. Malone was looking for a job at the NBA at that time and Popovic took on him to recommend Malone to Mike Brown when the former Tottenham assistant was head coach in Cleveland.
Since Malone never worked for Popovic, what Popovic did guarantee for the then young assistant, who was hired by Brown.
"He bought lunch in Argentina," Popovic said dryly. "No, he is a real man, he does not try to pull the wool over all eyes, he does not try to play the picture, he is Mikey and loves basketball, he is a hard worker, I could say a long time before he understood the game, he understood what he won and lost, there is a person where he has a sense of humor, but at the same time he gets the hair to seek and keep people responsible, I will have a career in this league. He just had to start a place, so I was happy I helped him. "