SAN ANTONIO — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and DeMar DeRozan added 25 to help the San Antonio Spurs overcome Nikola Jokic’s 43 points and beat the Denver Nuggets, 120-103, on Thursday night, forcing a Game 7 of the first-round Western Conference series.
“They’ve been great at throwing a punch at us and running away with it,” DeRozan said. “We tried to sustain that and understand whatever they do we have to match it, be more aggressive, understand we have to keep our rhythm, being aggressive on both ends and we did that.”
Jokic had 27 points in the second half to post the third highest point total this postseason behind the 50 by Portland’s Damian Lillard and the 45 by Golden State’s Kevin Durant. Jokic also finished with 12 rebounds and 9 assists to fall an assist shy of his second triple-double of the series.
Game 7 is Saturday in Denver, where the Nuggets had the league’s best home record during the regular season. The winner will face Portland.
The Spurs were able to regroup beyond the 3-point line. Marco Belinelli looked over at Coach Gregg Popovich after missing a 3-point attempt in the right corner with a little less than 11 minutes left. Popovich nodded his head and clapped at the veteran guard. The coach had a slight smile when Belinelli made his next 3-pointer a minute later.
“I don’t know, it’s my first Game 7,” Jokic said when asked what he expected in the finale. “It’s probably going to be even tougher than this one.”
Jamal Murray added 16 points and Gary Harris had 14 points for the Nuggets. Rudy Gay scored 19 for San Antonio.
The Spurs were 4 for 9 on 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter to overcome Jokic’s output.
San Antonio surged to a 34-24 lead by shooting 67 percent from the field in the first quarter while Denver missed all seven of its 3-point attempts.
DeRozan and Aldridge had a hand in the Spurs’ first 10 points, combining for 6 points and 4 assists. Aldridge made a 3-pointer to put San Antonio ahead, 15-8, with 7 minutes 26 seconds left, leading to a timeout by Denver.
Jokic kept the Nuggets in the game in the third quarter, shooting 8 of 9 from the field and scoring 17 points.