The Denver Nuggets look to complete a perfect road trip as they take a five-game winning streak into San Antonio on Friday for their first matchup of the season with the surging Spurs.
The Nuggets head to the Alamo City off a rousing 109-82 win in Miami over the COVID-19 depleted Heat. San Antonio is also playing well, beating Boston 110-106 at home on Wednesday to capture its second straight game.
Denver was up by 25 points at the half against Miami on Wednesday (the Nuggets’ biggest halftime lead this season) but allowed the Heat to claw to within 74-65 early in the final quarter. But that’s when the Nuggets were at their best, with reserves Michael Porter Jr. and JaMychal Green finding their range over and around Miami’s zone defense.
“(Miami) sat in that zone the whole second half,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “One of the reasons I got those guys in (to the game) was to just to give us more shooting, to space the floor, to try to beat that zone.”
Nikola Jokic finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his 18th consecutive double-double. Porter Jr. scored 17 points, Green added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Jamal Murray had 14 points for Denver despite going just 4 of 11 from the floor.
Paul Millsap, with 11, and Will Barton, with 10 points, gave the Nuggets six players in double-figure scoring.
The Nuggets have won 10 of their 13 games since beginning the season 1-4.
“When we were 1-4, there was no panic,” Murray said. “It was just five games — we turned things around pretty quick.”
Denver has won the first four games on its five-game road trip, marking the first four-victory trip for the Nuggets since December 2013.
“I don’t know if we’re as good as we played tonight,” Malone said.
As for the Spurs, they have the firepower to go toe-to-toe with any team in the league, as evidenced by their win Wednesday against Boston. DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points, and a late steal and dunk by Dejounte Murray helped close out the thrilling, back-and-forth tussle with the Celtics.
“We go out there, especially against these big teams, and compete to the best of our abilities,” DeRozan said. “It’s fun for us, and we take on the challenge.”
San Antonio is an interesting mix of older and younger players who are coming together. LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points for the Spurs in Wednesday’s win, with Keldon Johnson adding 18 points and 10 rebounds, Lonnie Walker IV scoring 14 points, Patty Mills hitting for 12, and Murray tallying 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Spurs were fantastic over the final six minutes of the second quarter, a stretch in which they made their final 10 shots in a 29-6 run that included back-to-back steals and layups in the last 2.8 seconds to take a 61-47 advantage to halftime.
After giving back most of that margin and more by early in the fourth quarter, San Antonio’s defense made the plays it needed down the stretch.
The Spurs found a way to win despite a season-high 19 turnovers, nine more than their per-game average heading into Wednesday’s contest.
“That hasn’t been our problem this year, but tonight it was,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the victory. “In the fourth quarter we played solid D, and we attacked the rim pretty good for ourselves and for teammates.”
— Field Level Media