Published: Wed, April 17, 2019
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

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

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

Utah Jazz forward Jae Crowder (left) and Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) battle for the ball during the second quarter in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center.

The Game 1 victory was Gregg Popovich's 1413th win [regular season and playoffs combined], the most by any coach in National Basketball Association history.

But its task begins with the Spurs, a team that manages to put up impressive scoring numbers of its own behind a deep rotation that features two scores over 20 points per game and almost seven averaging double figures. His 29 points on 26 shots would suggest that the Jazz were pleased with the outcome, but it's what Harden did for others that set him apart in Game 1.

"We had some shots that were open that we missed, and we also had some shots open that we didn't find, whether the guard didn't get it to him or the big didn't get it to the guys in the corner", he said. The Houston Rockets are averaging 122 points on 50.5 percent shooting and allowing 90 points on 39 percent shooting.

The Spurs came out seeking redemption from their regular season road game record of 16-25.

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They had the ball with 6.9 seconds left and needed a 3 even though they were just 6 for 28 from the arc.

The Nuggets offense just did not look the same without Jokic though, which is why Michael Malone subbed him back into the game just 3:30 into the second quarter. Jokic scored 20 points to help lead Denver to the victory. But now that they've gone all the way down to 213.5 points, it makes sense to step in and take the "over" instead. Lamarcus Aldridge was more of the same. The spread has opened at -6.5 for the Nuggets (money line: Denver- -275; San Antonio +225). Reserve Rudy Gay scored 14. He sank his first free throw and missed his second, but teammate Will Barton corralled the rebound and dribbled out the clock.

That dunk certainly shifted the momentum back in San Antonio's favor, but the Nuggets were not going away quietly.

Sputtering into the postseason was no way for the Denver Nuggets to end their six-year playoff drought. This was controversial because many people feel it was a dirty play but nonetheless a play that should never go uncalled.

White also provided the play of the game with his posterization of Nuggets big man Paul Millsap.

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Denver didn't play well offensively in the first game of the series and finished with 96 points.

The Rockets are 0-6 ATS in their last six games playing on 3 days of rest or more, but they are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight conference games.

Popovich and the Spurs will have a chance to add to the win total on Tuesday in Game 2. He averaged 21.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game while posting the team's highest PER (22.98).

The Denver Nuggets finished just behind the Golden State Warriors, but no one is ready to hand it this series against one of the toughest #7 seeds in recent history.

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz and Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz seen on the court during the game against the Houston Rockets on February 2, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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