Nikola Jokic had another triple-double, Jamal Murray hit a clutch floater with 36.8 seconds remaining and the host Denver Nuggets held off the San Antonio Spurs 90-86 in Game 7 on Saturday night to advance in the postseason for the first time in a decade.
In a matchup between a Denver team with the youngest playoff roster in the West and the savvy Spurs, the second-seeded Nuggets built a 17-point lead in the third quarter only to see it whittled down to two with 52 seconds remaining.
Jokic finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, with no pass bigger than the one to set up Murray’s floater. DeMar DeRozan had a chance to slice into the deficit but was blocked by Torrey Craig. Then, the Spurs couldn’t hear coach Gregg Popovich screaming for a foul over the noise and the Nuggets were able to essentially run out the clock.
“It took everybody,” Murray said. “Most of all it took the fans. … It’s a great feeling, an amazing feeling. We’re having a lot of fun. We’re one group. We’re united.”
Since making the Western Conference finals in 2009, the Nuggets have bowed out in the first round on four occasions. This was their first playoff appearance in six seasons.
Photo: David Zalubowski / Associated Press
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Denver will host third-seeded Portland in a series that begins Monday.
Murray added 23 points for the Nuggets, who captured a Game 7 for the first time since May 3, 1978, when David Thompson had 37 points in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Nuggets never trailed Saturday, but it was far from easy.
“Anxiety is a good word,” coach Michael Malone joked.
Rudy Gay had 21 points for San Antonio, and DeRozan and Bryn Forbes each added 19.
Jokic turned in another monster game. He showed off his arsenal of shots, even throwing in a sky hook.
Jokic also had a triple-double in Game 1.
“He’s magnificent,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
Raptors 108, 76ers 95: Kawhi Leonard scored a career playoff-high 45 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Pascal Siakam added 29 points and host Toronto beat Philadelphia in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Leonard matched his career-best scoring total for any game, set Jan. 1 against Utah. Leonard’s previous postseason high was 43 points, with San Antonio against Memphis on April 22, 2017. Tobias Harris had 14 points and 15 rebounds, and JJ Redick scored 17 points for the 76ers.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Kawhi-Leonard-scores-45-as-Raptors-top-76ers-13801500.php.