The Denver Nuggets will need to dig deep for an energy reserve when they face host San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
It will be the first of two games in three days between the two teams in San Antonio.
The Nuggets travel to Alamo City for the second game in a straight road game following a 120-114 overtime win in New Orleans on Wednesday. Nikola Jokic had 39 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, his fourth triple-double in just 19 games this season.
Eleven of Jokic’s points came in the extra period after missing a 21-foot jumper at the last second who would have won the game in regulation.
Denver coach Michael Malone said after the game that there was a moment in overtime where he thought, “Am I lucky to have the reigning MVP on the road in a close match? “
Will Barton added 20 points for Denver in the win, Monte Morris scoring 11 and JaMychal Green and Aaron Gordon scoring 10 points.
The competitions in San Antonio are the last two of a seven-game, 13-day road trip for Denver, which has won three of the trip’s opening five.
“It’s like every town we go to gets smaller and smaller,” said Malone. “By the time we get to San Antonio, I hope to be part of the team.”
“It’s mostly about being together,” Green said, according to the Denver Post. “Now is the time for us to get to know each other individually in the field.”
The Spurs are coming back to the ground after a 121-109 home loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday. The game was the second in a back-to-back home game for San Antonio, who lost to Phoenix on Monday and has now lost two straight after a season-high four-game winning streak.
Derrick White paced San Antonio with 26 points, a season high on Tuesday. Dejounte Murray scored 15, Doug McDermott and Jakob Poeltl added 13 each and Bryn Forbes scored 12 points. Murray ended his double-double streak at seven.
The game was the first of five at home in a nine-day span for Spurs.
“With this first game back-to-back after a road trip, we knew it would be tough from an energetic point of view,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said afterwards. “I thought we were competing. The guys gave their effort. I was really happy with that.”
San Antonio gave up 17 offensive rebounds in the loss that led to 21 points for the Knicks. Keeping New York out of the glass was a tough challenge, according to Poeltl.
“We were trying to load up the defense a bit, to show some help to a lot of their physical pilots,” said Poeltl. “I think we had some tough rebounds. They were in a good position, obviously, and they’re good offensive rebounders. Maybe there was a lack of physics on my part.”
San Antonio will likely be without forward Keldon Johnson against the Nuggets after spraining his right ankle late in the first half of the loss to New York. An MRI scan performed on Wednesday revealed no structural damage to Johnson’s ankle.
The Nuggets have won the last three games of the series, beating the Spurs 102-96 on Oct. 22 in Denver.
–Field level media
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