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 yesterday before an announced sellout.
“It felt great,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “The fans were really into it. We put them to sleep in the first quarter and then we woke them up a little bit.
“So it was great to have all those people yelling and screaming. They deserve to have a good night.”
Doug McDermott added 20 points and Jeremy Sochan had 19 points for San Antonio, which shot 54 per cent in a balanced effort with their entire roster available for one of only a few times in an injury-riddled season.
It was enough to overcome Jokic’s 26th triple-double in what could be his third straight MVP season. It was the first time the Nuggets have lost this season when Jokic has a triple-double.
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 two-and-a-half 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, but instead had one of the season’s most unexpected losses.
San Antonio entered having lost two straight and 18 of 20.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone told the team’s staff and players that they needed to “look in the mirror” following the home loss to the Bulls.
The message was lost, even as the Nuggets responded to a second-half altercation.
Spurs centre 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.
After not playing in the first three quarters, Mamukelashvili had 11 points on four-for-five shooting. He was two for three on three-pointers.
Both teams finished with 13 three-pointers, but San Antonio outscored Denver 68-54 in the paint and had 50 rebounds while the Nuggets had 33.