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

DENVER (AP) Nikola Jokic overcame suffocating double teams to become the fourth player in NBA history to record a triple-double in his playoff debut and the first since LeBron James in 2006.

What did it mean to him?

''To be honest, nothing,'' Jokic said.

It also mattered little to the San Antonio Spurs, who beat the Denver Nuggets 101-96 in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series Saturday night.

Jokic's accomplishment was rendered a footnote by LaMarcus Aldridge's suffocating defense, DeMar DeRozen's 18 points, Derrick White's clinching steal in the closing seconds and all those wide-open shots that just didn't fall for Denver.

Although Jokic pulled down 14 rebounds and dished out 14 assists, he took just nine shots, made four, and was limited to 10 points, less than half his regular season scoring average of 20.1.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called it a wash because Aldridge wasn't himself, either, going just 6 of 19 for 15 points.

''We didn't let Jokic play as he wanted and they didn't let LaMarcus play as much as he wanted,'' Popovich said. ''It is important because they are both great players and they are going to continue to get a lot of attention throughout the series.''

Aldridge said this is what everyone can expect this whole series, too.

''Both bigs kind of never really got comfortable down there. When you have two bigs that are so big for your team, it's going to be like that,'' Aldridge said. ''We did a good job of just trying to mix it up on him. They did the same thing on me.''

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he didn't wish his All-Star had taken more shots.

''Every time he put it down, there was somebody right there. They trapped him every time,'' Malone said. ''So, I think Nikola has a high IQ. He's going to make the right play. Unfortunately, we didn't make them pay for double-teaming enough.''

The Nuggets made just 42 percent of their shots, 21 percent from 3-point range, and missed eight free throws while failing to score a single fast-break basket.

''I think if we're making shots, it becomes a lot harder to double-team him consistently,'' Malone said. ''They stayed with it because we couldn't make a shot. So, that was the tough thing about it. But I love Nikola's approach. I love his play-making. I love his passing.''

The sellout crowd at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets went 34-7 for the best home record in the league, certainly wanted Jokic to take more shots. But even those calls quieted after Jokic shot an airball on a 3 at a crucial point in the fourth quarter.

White stole the ball at midcourt from Jamal Murray with 1.3 seconds left after Aldridge sank a pair of free throws following his key defensive rebound of Murray's errant shot that would have given the Nuggets the lead with seven seconds left.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Denver.

Making their first playoff appearance in six years, the Nuggets trailed most of the night, but they trimmed a 12-point deficit to one in the final minute.

They had the ball with 6.9 seconds left and needed a 3 even though they were just 6 for 28 from the arc. But they never got the chance to tie it because 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.

''He was spectacular,'' Popovich said. ''For somebody who got put in that position and to learn that position with a bunch of new players, it's really remarkable what he's done. Hopefully, he'll continue to play that way because it's going to be a long series.''

Asked what adjustments he had in mind for Game 2, Malone said simply, ''Make shots.''

TIP-INS:

San Antonio: The Spurs have won five of six playoff series against the Nuggets with their only series defeat coming in 1985. ... San Antonio is making its 22nd straight playoff appearance, this one with a new cast that includes DeRozan, who came over from Toronto in the Kawhi Leonard trade. ... The Spurs' win marked the third by a road team on the opening day of the NBA playoffs. They joined the Nets, who won at Philadelphia, and Magic, who won at Toronto.

Denver: The Nuggets are 6-21 against the Spurs in the playoffs. ... The Nuggets have lost seven of their last 12 home games against San Antonio. ... Denver won the Northwest Division title for the first time since 2010. ... Gary Harris led Denver with 20 points and Murray had 17, but that was on 8-of-24 shooting, including 0 for 6 from the arc.

UP NEXT

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Denver.

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Key Players
Min. Per Game
Pts. Per Game
Ast. Per Game
Reb. Per Game
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
+ 1 Derrick White made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:01
+ 1 LaMarcus Aldridge made 1st of 2 free throws 0:06
  Personal foul on Nikola Jokic 0:06
  Defensive rebound by LaMarcus Aldridge 0:06
  Defensive rebound by Will Barton 0:13
  DeMar DeRozan missed jump shot 0:16
  Offensive rebound by DeMar DeRozan 0:26
  Full timeout called 0:55
  DEN team rebound 0:55
  Lost ball turnover on Derrick White, stolen by Jamal Murray 1:09
+ 2 Jamal Murray made jump shot 1:32
Team Stats
Points 101 96
Field Goals 40-83 (48.2%) 37-88 (42.0%)
3-Pointers 7-15 (46.7%) 6-28 (21.4%)
Free Throws 14-20 (70.0%) 16-24 (66.7%)
Total Rebounds 53 55
Offensive 10 13
Defensive 37 33
Team 6 9
Assists 20 25
Steals 4 8
Blocks 4 3
Turnovers 11 10
Fouls 17 18
Technicals 0 0
18 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST
10 PTS, 14 REB, 14 AST
1234T
away team logo Spurs 1-0 25341329101
home team logo Nuggets 0-1 2031172896
Team Stats
away team logo Spurs 1-0 103.4 PPG 46 RPG 20.8 APG
home team logo Nuggets 0-1 108.6 PPG 43.6 RPG 27.0 APG
Key Players
D. DeRozan SG 22.0 PPG 6.4 RPG 3.8 APG 47.6 FG%
G. Harris SG 15.6 PPG 4.0 RPG 2.4 APG 48.3 FG%
Top Scorers
D. DeRozan SG 18 PTS 12 REB 6 AST
G. Harris SG 20 PTS 3 REB 1 AST
48.2 FG% 42.0
46.7 3PT FG% 21.4
70.0 FT% 66.7
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
D. DeRozan 18 12 6 6/17 0/0 6/8 1 39 0 1 4 3 9 -3 39
D. White 16 3 5 7/10 0/0 2/3 3 27 1 0 4 0 3 +2 26
L. Aldridge 15 8 1 6/19 0/1 3/4 3 33 1 0 0 5 3 +2 26
B. Forbes 15 5 0 6/9 3/4 0/0 2 30 0 0 0 0 5 -7 20
J. Poeltl 6 6 0 3/5 0/1 0/0 3 24 1 1 0 1 5 -1 14
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
D. DeRozan 18 12 6 6/17 0/0 6/8 1 39 0 1 4 3 9 -3 39
D. White 16 3 5 7/10 0/0 2/3 3 27 1 0 4 0 3 +2 26
L. Aldridge 15 8 1 6/19 0/1 3/4 3 33 1 0 0 5 3 +2 26
B. Forbes 15 5 0 6/9 3/4 0/0 2 30 0 0 0 0 5 -7 20
J. Poeltl 6 6 0 3/5 0/1 0/0 3 24 1 1 0 1 5 -1 14
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
R. Gay 14 6 1 6/9 2/3 0/0 2 26 1 0 3 1 5 +10 20
M. Belinelli 8 4 2 3/9 1/4 1/2 0 16 0 0 0 0 4 +8 16
D. Bertans 5 1 2 1/2 1/2 2/3 3 19 0 1 0 0 1 +7 11
P. Mills 4 2 3 2/3 0/0 0/0 0 21 0 1 0 0 2 +7 13
L. Walker IV 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Cunningham - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Motiejunas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Q. Pondexter - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Metu - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Murray - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Moore - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Eubanks - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 101 47 20 40/83 7/15 14/20 17 236 4 4 11 10 37 +25 185
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
G. Harris 20 3 1 7/12 1/3 5/5 2 36 0 1 0 0 3 -2 26
J. Murray 17 2 0 8/24 0/6 1/1 2 34 6 0 2 2 0 +5 23
W. Barton 15 10 1 6/15 1/5 2/4 1 32 0 2 0 2 8 0 29
P. Millsap 12 4 1 4/9 1/5 3/3 3 34 0 0 3 1 3 -1 15
N. Jokic 10 14 14 4/9 0/3 2/2 3 36 1 0 3 3 11 0 50
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
G. Harris 20 3 1 7/12 1/3 5/5 2 36 0 1 0 0 3 -2 26
J. Murray 17 2 0 8/24 0/6 1/1 2 34 6 0 2 2 0 +5 23
W. Barton 15 10 1 6/15 1/5 2/4 1 32 0 2 0 2 8 0 29
P. Millsap 12 4 1 4/9 1/5 3/3 3 34 0 0 3 1 3 -1 15
N. Jokic 10 14 14 4/9 0/3 2/2 3 36 1 0 3 3 11 0 50
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
M. Beasley 10 3 0 3/5 1/2 3/5 1 15 0 0 2 1 2 -4 11
T. Craig 6 4 0 2/4 2/3 0/2 2 10 0 0 0 1 3 -5 10
M. Plumlee 4 6 3 2/4 0/0 0/2 2 17 0 0 0 3 3 -7 16
M. Morris 2 0 5 1/6 0/1 0/0 2 23 1 0 0 0 0 -11 13
I. Thomas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Goodwin - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Lyles - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Welsh - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Lydon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Hernangomez - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Vanderbilt - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Porter Jr. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 96 46 25 37/88 6/28 16/24 18 237 8 3 10 13 33 -25 193