LOS ANGELES — Nikola Jokic had 21 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, Jamal Murray finished with 23 points, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurs 90-86 in Game 7 of a Western Conference quarterfinal series on Saturday night.
The second-seeded Nuggets advance to play the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the conference semifinals. Game 1 is Monday in Denver.
Rudy Gay had 21 points, DeMar DeRozan and Bryn Forbes scored 19 each and LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 11 rebounds for seventh-seeded San Antonio.
The Nuggets led the whole way but had to sweat out the ending.
Aldridge sank a layup to make it 84-80 with 4:13 left. San Antonio had a chance to get within one or two, but Forbes lost the ball on a drive to the basket, and Murray and Torrey Craig scored for Denver to make it 88-80.
Forbes hit a 3-pointer before DeRozan split a pair of free throws with 1:10 left to make it 88-84. Forbes dunked after a Denver miss go make it a two-point game with 52.2 seconds left.
Murray drained a floating 14-footer make it a four-point lead, and Craig blocked DeRozan’s drive to the basket with 28.4 seconds left. The Spurs didn’t foul, and Denver was able to run the clock down and hold on.
After a cold-shooting first half, both teams started hitting shots. Denver made five of its first seven shots in the third quarter and built a 17-point lead. The Spurs got within 72-61 heading into the fourth.
The Spurs missed 17 of their first 19 shots and had just four points in the first nine minutes of the game yet trailed by only 13 points. Gay scored the last nine San Antonio points in the first quarter to keep it close.
The teams combined to go 2-for-22 from 3-point range in the first half and made just 28 of 90 shots. The Spurs’ 34 points at halftime matched what they scored in the first quarter of Game 6.
Jokic (15 points) and Gay (11 points) were the only two players to reach double figures in the first half.
RAPTORS WIN GAME 1 VS 76ERS
Kawhi Leonard scored a career playoff best with 45 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors defeated the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 108-95 Saturday night in the opening game of their Eastern Conference semifinals.
Pascal Siakam added 29 points and seven rebounds for the Raptors and Kyle Lowry added nine points and eight assists.
JJ Redick had 17 points for the 76ers. Joel Embiid chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Tobias Harris had 14 points and 15 rebounds. Ben Simmons also had 14 points with nine rebounds, James Ennis III had 11 points and Jimmy Butler had 10.
The Raptors led by as many as 19 points and took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter. Leonard’s 14-footer had the Raptors leading by 18 with 7:06 remaining. The lead reached 20 on Leonard’s jumper with 4:17 to play.
The Raptors opened a lead of 14 points during the first quarter but settled for a 39-31 advantage entering the second quarter.
The 76ers continued to chip away and drew within one point when Harris hit a jumper with 8:02 left in the half.
The Raptors then reeled off nine straight points and led by 10 when Leonard made a pair of free throws with 5:44 remaining.
The Sixers pulled back to within seven points, but the Raptors led by 11 with 2:45 to go in the half on Leonard’s running layup.
A cutting dunk by Simmons completed the first-half scoring with the Raptors leading 61-52.
Leonard had 27 first-half points and Siakam had 22.
Harris and Embiid each had 12 first-half points for Philadelphia.
Redick started the second half with a 3-pointer to trim the lead to six points. His fourth 3-pointer of the third quarter cut the lead to four points with 8:48 remaining.
The Raptors pulled away again and Leonard’s 3-pointer had them ahead by 17 with 6:02 left in the third. But Ennis hit a 3-pointer to reduce the margin to 11 at the 4:45 mark. The Raptors pulled away again and led by 19 on Leonard’s pull-up jumper with 1:34 to play before Redick answered with his fifth 3-pointer of the quarter.
The Raptors led 92-81 after three quarters. — Reuters