Denver rebounds, evens series with San Antonio

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

LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and nine 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.

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

“We did a really good job defensively, that’s what won us the game,” Murray said. “In quarters two, three and four, we got our run because of our defense because we all collectively rebounded. It was just a collective effort that led to our offense.”

The Nuggets were more aggressive and physical after their 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 prior to the game.

Malone was able to stir that fire with a couple of changes after Derrick White’s 36-point outing in 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.

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

“The Nuggets competed and we did not,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Their physicality was obvious from the get-go. You knew that was going to happen and we did not respond. So, it was a very disappointing loss.”

Bucks 119, Pistons 103: Khris Middleton had 20 points and nine rebounds and visiting Milwaukee beat Detroit to take a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference series. The Bucks overcame 27 points, seven rebounds and six 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. Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe each scored 19 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee.

76ers 112, Nets 108: Joel Embiid had 31 points and 16 rebounds and passed to Mike Scott for the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18 seconds left as visiting Philadelphia beat Brooklyn to take a 3-1 lead in the East series. Tobias Harris had 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the 76ers. Embiid, who scored eight straight points in the fourth quarter after the Nets led by seven, helped the 76ers overcome the loss of Jimmy Butler, ejected in the third quarter after Embiid’s hard foul on Jarrett Allen. Caris LeVert, inserted into the Nets’ starting lineup, scored 25 points.

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