N.B.A. Playoffs: Second-Seeded Nuggets Pull Even With Spurs

Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 12 rebounds, Jamal Murray added 24 points, and the Denver Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurs, 117-103, on Saturday, rebounding from a flat performance to tie the Western Conference first-round series at two games each.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Denver.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 9 rebounds for San Antonio. DeMar DeRozan added 19 points before he was ejected with five minutes remaining after arguing with an official over an offensive foul.

“Frustration,” DeRozan said. “I mean, I thought it was a bad call.”

The second-seeded Nuggets were more aggressive and physical after a deflating Game 3 loss, just as Denver Coach Michael Malone had hoped.

“I want to see some emotion. I want to see some fire. I want to see some passion,” Malone said before the game.

Malone was able to stir that fire with a couple of changes after Derrick White scored 36 to fuel San Antonio’s Game 3 victory.

Torrey Craig started over a struggling Will Barton and was charged with defending White to open the game, with Murray switching to Bryn Forbes. The moves proved beneficial, if not at first.

“He’s a really good defender,” Jokic said about Craig. “He’s helping us on defensive rebounds. So he helps in that part of the game, and his defense is really phenomenal. And when he’s making shots like tonight, it’s a great job by him.”

White was limited to 8 points, shooting 3 of 8 from the field after going 15 for 21 on Thursday. Craig finished with 18 points, going 5 for 7 on 3-point attempts. Barton finished with 12 points and made all three of his 3-point attempts.

Behind by 12 points in the first quarter, Denver outscored San Antonio, 69-45, in the second and third.

“They executed their game plan better,” White said. “We kind of helped them out by playing awful.”

BUCKS 119, PISTONS 103 Khris Middleton had 20 points and 9 rebounds. and Milwaukee won at Detroit to take a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

The Bucks, who had the N.B.A.’s best regular-season record, can close out the series Monday night in Detroit after winning the first three games by an average of 24 points.

The Bucks overcame 27 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists from Blake Griffin in his return from a right knee injury. He missed the first two games of the series after sitting out four of the final six in the regular season.

Griffin had an immediate defensive impact, forcing two turnovers on Milwaukee’s first three possessions, but he struggled to keep up in transition.

Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe each scored 19 points for the Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 14 points and 10 rebounds, struggling with foul trouble. Andre Drummond had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons.

 

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