Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is guraded by Lamarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets 90-86 win in game seven of their first round playoff series on Saturday, April 27. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
There was nothing easy about it.
Then again, there never usually is with the good things.
The Denver Nuggets held on to defeat the San Antonio Spurs, 90-86, in game seven of the first round playoff series on Saturday night at Pepsi Center.
The Nuggets move on to play the Portland Trail Blazers while the Spurs' season is over.
But it nearly didn't turn out that way.
After a quick start, the Nuggets built their lead to 17 points on Jamal Murray's basket with 4:14 left in the third quarter.
But the Spurs would not go down quietly. By the end of the third quarter, they had cut the Nuggets' lead to 72-61 and they kept coming at Denver in the fourth quarter.
DeMar DeRozan hit a shot to get San Antonio within 84-80 with 3:53 to go. Byrn Forbes' dunk with 52.2 second remaining cut the Nuggets lead to 88-86.
16 seconds later, Jamal Murray scored to make it 90-86. The Torrey Craig blocked DeRozan's shot in close and the Nuggets closed it out.
Nuggets center Nikola Jokic played nearly 44 minutes and was terrific. He had 21 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.
"He was magnificent. Magnificent. I'll leave it at that," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Nuggets shot only 39.8% from the field (35-88) and made on 2-of-20 attempts from three-point range.
But they had enough to win their first game seven since May 3, 1978,
The Nuggets move on to play the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference semifinals.
Game one will be Monday night at Pepsi Center.
Game 1 (at DEN): Monday, Apr. 29, 10:30 p.m. --TV:TNT
Game 2 (at DEN): Wednesday, May 1, 9 p.m. -- TV: TNT
Game 3 (at POR): Friday, May 3, 10:30 p.m. -- TV: ESPN
Game 4 (at POR): Sunday, May 5, 7 p.m. -- TV: TNT
Game 5* (at DEN): Tuesday, May 7, TBD -- TV: TNT
Game 6* (at POR): Thursday, May 9, TDB -- TV: ESPN
Game 7* (at DEN): Sunday, May 12, TBD -- TV: TBD