EditorsNote: Edit 1: Added needed word in ninth graf
Nikola Jokic had 21 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, Jamal Murray finished with 23 points, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurs 90-86 in Game 7 of a Western Conference quarterfinal series on Saturday night.
The second-seeded Nuggets advance to play the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the conference semifinals. Game 1 is Monday in Denver.
Rudy Gay had 21 points, DeMar DeRozan and Bryn Forbes scored 19 each and LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 11 rebounds for seventh-seeded San Antonio.
The Nuggets led the whole way but had to sweat out the ending.
Aldridge sank a layup to make it 84-80 with 4:13 left. San Antonio had a chance to get within one or two, but Forbes lost the ball on a drive to the basket, and Murray and Torrey Craig scored for Denver to make it 88-80.
Forbes hit a 3-pointer before DeRozan split a pair of free throws with 1:10 left to make it 88-84. Forbes dunked after a Denver miss go make it a two-point game with 52.2 seconds left.
Murray drained a floating 14-footer make it a four-point lead, and Craig blocked DeRozan’s drive to the basket with 28.4 seconds left. The Spurs didn’t foul, and Denver was able to run the clock down and hold on.
After a cold-shooting first half, both teams started hitting shots. Denver made five of its first seven shots in the third quarter and built a 17-point lead. The Spurs got within 72-61 heading into the fourth.
The Spurs missed 17 of their first 19 shots and had just four points in the first nine minutes of the game yet trailed by only 13 points. Gay scored the last nine San Antonio points in the first quarter to keep it close.
The teams combined to go 2-for-22 from 3-point range in the first half and made just 28 of 90 shots. The Spurs’ 34 points at halftime matched what they scored in the first quarter of Game 6.
Jokic (15 points) and Gay (11 points) were the only two players to reach double figures in the first half.
—Field Level Media