Popovich tossed 63 ticks into game

Gregg Popovich
Gregg Popovich

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Nikola Jokic was just one assist shy of a triple-double Wednesday as he led the Denver Nuggets to a 113-85 NBA blowout of the San Antonio Spurs -- who saw coach Gregg Popovich tossed just 63 seconds into the contest.

"Pop" called a timeout with the Spurs trailing 5-0 and promptly started jawing with a game official who called him for a technical foul.

Popovich didn't let up, and was hit with a quick second technical and ejected at 1:03 of the first quarter, in what the Elias Sports Bureau said was the quickest ejection of a coach since Flip Saunders of the Wizards was tossed 1:46 into a game at Boston in 2012.

Popovich had some fun with it when he crashed Nuggets head coach Mike Malone's post-game press conference, feigning surprise at Malone's report that "Somebody got thrown out in 63 seconds."

Otherwise there wasn't much for the Spurs to smile about as the Nuggets, second in the West behind the Golden State Warriors, dominated.

Jokic scored 20 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out nine assists.

Jamal Murray finished with 14 points, 11 assists and six rebounds and Monte Morris and Malik Beasley scored 19 points apiece as the Nuggets snapped a two-game skid.

"My favorite stat tonight is 41 assists," Malone said. "You make 47 shots with 41 assists, that's what we stressed today.

"Everyone was worried about our shooting struggles, but as long as we're generating good shots and playing for each other, that's all we care about."

Western Conference contenders Houston and Portland also won.

The Rockets crushed the Los Angeles Clippers 135-103 in what could have been a preview of a first-round playoff matchup.

James Harden and Chris Paul combined for 60 points, making 19 of 34 shots with 14 assists. Clint Capela added 24 points with 15 rebounds as the Rockets stayed a half-game in front of the Trail Blazers for third place.

The Trail Blazers, heading for the playoffs without Jusuf Nurkic after the star center's catastrophic leg injury earlier this month, notched their 50th win of the season, 116-89 over the Memphis Grizzlies.