Nikola Jokic racked up 26 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds as the Denver Nuggets built a big early lead and barely held on for a 121-119 win over the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
By beating San Antonio for the second time in three days at Denver, the Nuggets earned their eighth consecutive victory. Denver is 13-3 since the All-Star break. San Antonio lost for the fifth game in a row and fell for the 10th time in the past 12 contests.
The Nuggets never trailed in the game, but the Spurs cut their deficit to one point late in the third quarter and to within 118-117 on a driving layup by Derrick White with 24.2 seconds to play.
Will Barton expanded the Nuggets' lead to three points by sinking two free throws with 16 seconds left.
White then answered by hitting two foul shots with 10.7 seconds to play before Denver's Michael Porter Jr. made one at the line but missed his second attempt with 10 seconds left. Keldon Johnson rebounded and drove to the rim but missed with 5.1 seconds to play before both Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan failed on put-back attempts.
Jokic logged his 13th triple double of the season, second in the NBA only to the 20 of Washington's Russell Westbrook. Porter added 22 points and 10 rebounds, Monte Morris scored 21, Barton had 17 and Aaron Gordon tallied 11 for the Nuggets.
Six players scored in double figures for the Spurs. White led the way with 25 points, DeRozan added 24 points and 12 assists, Johnson and Rudy Gay scored 15 apiece, Jakob Poeltl recorded 13 points and 10 rebounds and Murray hit for 12 points.
The Nuggets took charge of the game early on, shooting 59.1 percent to San Antonio's 55 percent in the first quarter in taking a 36-26 lead after 12 minutes of play. Denver expanded its lead to as many as 18 points midway through the second quarter before cooling off from the floor, allowing the Spurs to claw within 61-50 heading to halftime.
Jokic and Porter led Denver with 12 points each in the first half while DeRozan paced the Spurs with 11 points in the half.
--Field Level Media