The San Antonio Spurs are in a position that they have felt the last two seasons but this time they have no one to blame but themselves.
The Spurs fell 108-90 to the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night, setting up a must-win game on Thursday night to keep their season alive.
“They just outplayed us in every facet of the game,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “They got five threes in the first quarter, they played well in every way and we need more guys to play well for sure.”
San Antonio was led by DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, who both finished with 17 points. Jakob Poeltl and Derrick White each added 12 as the only four Spurs in double figures.
Since Game 1, the Spurs’ bench has struggled and that continued on Tuesday. San Antonio’s bench had 21 points compared to Denver’s 39.
Rudy Gay continued to be a nonfactor with just six points on 3-for-9 shooting while Davis Bertans was 1-for-5 from the floor.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets were led by Jamal Murray’s 23 points, while Nikola Jokic added 16 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists for Denver, who move a game away from the second round.
”You hear everybody talk about these other players, rightfully so,” Denver head coach Michael Malone said. ”The league is filled with great players. What Nikola Jokic is doing in his playoff debut has not happened very often in the history of this game. Once again tonight 16, 11 and eight. I damn near ran him into the ground. Those 3s at the end of the quarter were huge.”
The Spurs will likely wonder what could have been if they had not given up a 19-point lead in Game 2 and returned to San Antonio up two games instead of tied at a game apiece.
The Silver and Black would have likely been up 3-0 going into Game 4. Instead, they will now try to save their season and force a winner take all Game 7 this weekend.
The Spurs trail the best-of-seven series 2-3 and will try to avoid elimination when they take the court for Game 6 at the AT&T Center on Thursday night at 7 pm Central Time.