Derrick White dropped a career-high 36 points and DeMar DeRozan had a 19 point third quarter and together they helped push the San Antonio Spurs to a 2-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets in a 118-108 victory.
The Spurs kicked off Game 3 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs with a 31 point first quarter.
White remained a constant threat all night with his career-high performance. He finished his 36 point affair going 15-21, 1-4 from beyond the arc. White added an additional five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Speaking after the win White noted his aggressiveness on the floor. He said, “I wanted to come out here and be aggressive and do whatever it takes to help us win.”
White also explained the extra focus of Nuggets’ defenders on LaMarcus Aldridge and DeRozan which allowed him to power through saying, “I know they [had] a lot of attention on [LaMarcus Aldridge] and DeMar [DeRozan], so I tried to be aggressive and take us to the hoop strong and try to make plays.”
The Nuggets exploded for 36 points in the second quarter and at one point led by as much as 10, but the Spurs were able to pull away in the third quarter behind DeRozan.
DeRozan scored 19 of his 25 points in the third quarter. He finished the night going 9-18, 0-1 from the three-point line. DeRozan also contributed four rebounds, five assists and three steals.
White and DeRozan’s combined effort was able to stifle a night in which Nikola Jokic had 22 points on 8-14 shooting, 3-6 from the three-point line. Jokic added eight rebounds and seven assists in the loss.
Behind Jokic was Malik Beasley who added 20 points off the bench on 7-13 shooting, including five made three-pointers. Beasley added nine rebounds and two assists to his stat line.
The Spurs were helped by Rudy Gay’s 11 point and 11 rebound double-double off the bench.
Following the loss, Nuggets head coach Mike Malone discussed with reporters the need for his team to overcome their youth. Malone said, “I don’t like to make excuses, but I also think it’s the reality. When you’re the eighth youngest playoff team in the history of the NBA, that’s real. That’s not something I’m conjuring up, that’s the facts.”
In total, Nuggets shooters went 42-81, 15-29 from the three-point line. The Spurs went 44-90, 7-18 from beyond the arc.
“How do we respond to that?” Malone said regarding the need to address White’s performance. “Where’s your pride, where’s your toughness, where’s your grit. So, Game 4 is going to be a great insight into who we are as a team, especially our young players.”
Game 4 of the series will take place on Saturday, April 20.
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