DeRozan leads Spurs past Nuggets in Game 1, 101-96

Spurs stun Nuggets in Game 1, take series lead

Spurs stun Nuggets in Game 1, take series lead

LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs prove their playoff mettle.

Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton, left, defends against San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA first-round basketball playoff series Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Denver.

DeMar DeRozan finished with a team-high 18 points, Derrick White made impact plays on both sides of the ball and the San Antonio Spurs held off a late fourth-quarter rally to top the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series, 101-96.

They never got the chance, though, as White, a second-year pro who moved into a bigger role when Dejounte Murray got hurt in the preseason, stripped Murray and drew the foul, then sank both shots.

The shot he missed with nine seconds left, a pull-up, 17-foot jumper in open space after a well-executed pick-and-roll, was the kind of bucket he long imagined himself draining in a moment such as this.

Earlier in the day, the No. 7 Orlando Magic also stunned the second-seeded Toronto Raptors while the No. 6 Brooklyn Nets scored an upset over the third-ranked Philadelphia 76ers.

Nikola Jokic, who finished with a triple-double, said Murray made the right decision in taking the shot.

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"We didn't let Jokic play as he wanted and they didn't let LaMarcus play as much as he wanted", said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. The exclamation point to that stretch came with White's thunderous dunk over Paul Millsap - a play that stopped a 5-0 Nuggets run and swung momentum in the Spurs' favor.

Bryn Forbes chipped in 15 points for the Spurs, who are on their 22nd straight playoff appearance. So, coach Michael Malone said before tip-off he expected his team to come out a bundle of nerves.

They may have settled down but they never really settled in. "For somebody who got put into that position, and to learn that position with a bunch of new players is really remarkable".

"This is not rocket science", Malone said.

"I think if we're making shots, it becomes a lot harder to double-team him consistently", Malone said.

The Nuggets can not afford to lose game 2 and go down 2-0 to a Gregg Popovich team before heading to San Antonio. "We had a lot of wide open shots that didn't fall for us tonight, and hopefully they'll fall on Tuesday night". Denver won the Northwest Division title for the first time since 2010.

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