Spurs overcome Jokic's triple-double to top Nuggets 128-120
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Keldon Johnson scored 23 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame 37 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists by Nikola Jokic to stun the Denver Nuggets 128-120 on Friday night.
Doug McDermott added 20 points and Jeremy Sochan had 19 points for San Antonio, which shot 54% in a balanced effort with their entire roster available for one of only a few times in an injury-riddled season.
It was Jokic’s 26th triple-double in what could be his third straight MVP season.
Jamal Murray added 24 points for Denver, which lost its second straight following a four-game winning streak. The Nuggets maintained the Western Conference’s best record at 46-21, but fell 2 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the league’s best record.
Denver hoped to rebound from an uncharacteristically sloppy outing in a 117-96 loss at home to Chicago on Wednesday, but instead had one of the season’s most deflating losses.
San Antonio entered having lost two straight and 18 of 20.
“When you get blown out at home, I think that’s an eye-opening experience,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said before the game. “If you’re man enough, not that everybody is in this business, but if you’re man enough to look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself, I think we all realized, starting with me from all the way down 1 through 17, we did not do our jobs against Chicago.
"So, you hope the message is delivered.”
The message was lost, even as the Nuggets responded to a second-half altercation.
Spurs center Zach Collins and Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. were ejected with 6:57 remaining in the third quarter after having to be separated by teammates, officials, and the coaching staffs.
After Collins and Jokic had a series of hard bumps and shoves, Porter threw down a monstrous one-handed dunk on Collins. Porter glared and said something to Collins, who responded by charging at and bumping him from behind. The two were nose-to-nose before Porter pushed Collins in the throat.
Denver responded with a 5-0 run to trail 85-84, but San Antonio never lost its lead in the second half.
Nuggets: Denver has 15 games remaining, including 12 against teams that currently qualify for the playoffs. ... C DeAndre Jordan has played in just 35 games this season, which is on pace to be the fewest in his 15-year career. His lowest total is 48 games, which he had last season while playing with the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers. ... Porter had seven points, one rebound and one assist in 20 minutes when he was ejected.
Spurs: San Antonio is 3-46 this season when trailing by double figures during a game. The Spurs have trailed by double figures in 74% of their games this season. San Antonio is 1-35 when trailing by 15 points. ... Romeo Langford was eligible for his second straight game after missing 17 consecutive games with left abductor tightness. ... Collins had 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes when he was ejected.
Nuggets: Host Brooklyn on Sunday.
Spurs: Host Oklahoma City on Sunday. —
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Raul Dominguez, The Associated Press