LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The San Antonio Spurs weren’t about to go quietly in their first round series with the Denver Nuggets, delivering a dominating 120-103 win on Thursday to force a winner-take all game seven.
The Spurs kept their postseason alive by shooting and rebounding their way to victory in game six at home after losing two straight in the series.
“We had to come out aggressive,” said Spurs DeMar DeRozan. “At halftime we discussed how we were getting outrebounded and we tried to buckle down and did a better job in the second half. Everybody fell in line.”
Game seven will be Saturday in Denver, where the second-seeded Nuggets had the best home record in the NBA in the regular season.
LaMarcus Aldridge poured in 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and DeRozan added 25 points as the Spurs, who were the better team off the bench and down the stretch.
Rudy Gay added 19 points for the Spurs. Derrick White and Bryn Forbes scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, for San Antonio, the seventh seed in the West.
“Rudy Gay off the bench was a huge factor,” said Nuggets coach Mike Malone. “You knew at some point he was going to make an imprint on the series and he did tonight in a big way.”
Nikola Jokic scored 43 points to set a Nuggets’ franchise playoff record in the loss.
The total was a career high for the Serb star. Jokic also grabbed 12 rebounds and recorded nine assists.
Malone said they were hampered by too many careless turnovers.
“It was turnovers for us and it was offensive rebounds for them. And just no defense. The attention to detail was not there tonight and we have to be much better next game,” he said.
Denver survived the Spurs’ quick start and came back in the second quarter to take a brief 50-47 lead.
San Antonio led by five points to start the fourth, but scored the first eight points of the period to compile a 98-85 lead.
A three-pointer by Forbes as the shot clock ran down with 7:28 to play capped a 15-2 run and pushed the Spurs’ lead to 105-87, and Denver never got closer than 15 points the remainder of the game.
“We had a lot of people have good games tonight,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “The Nuggets have had that pretty regularly.”