Nuggets lead series 3-2 after Game 5 victory over Spurs

Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) passes the ball to center Nikola Jokic (15) around San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge (12) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center.
Apr 23, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) passes the ball to center Nikola Jokic (15) around San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge (12) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets won Game 5 on Tuesday with a 108-90 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

With the win, Denver now leads San Antonio 3-2 in round one of the Western Conference Playoffs.

After snapping a 14-game losing streak in San Antonio on Saturday, the Nuggets had all the momentum coming into Game 5. That carried over into Tuesday night as Denver made three of their first five three-point attempts, while the Spurs opened the game strong as well. It was an offensive showdown in the first four-minutes of the game as each team had 11-points with 7:17 left in the first quarter.

It was at that point Denver started to take control in the first quarter as they went on an 8-0 run and held San Antonio scoreless for over three minutes. Denver’s run came courtesy of some tremendous shooting and swarming defense as they were playing with phenomenal energy on both ends of the court. Because of that, the Nuggets were able to put together a solid first quarter as they led 26-19 after 12 minutes of play.

San Antonio was able to weather the Nuggets solid first quarter, which the Spurs capitalized on to begin quarter number two. The Spurs opened the period on a 4-0 run as they started to make shots and complimented it with solid defense. After struggling to score at the beginning of the quarter, Denver quickly found their rhythm again offensively, which allowed them to jump back out to a 7-point lead.

Jamal Murray was a major reason why Denver was in front as he was hustling and playing with solid effort on both ends of the court. Murray’s lay in with 3:44 remaining in the second quarter gave Denver a 44-35 lead as they continued to dominate on both ends of the floor. The Nuggets continued to control the pace-of-play for the remainder of the half as they took a 53-42 lead into the halftime locker room.

The Nuggets played arguably their two best quarters of the series in half number one as they played with an energy that San Antonio just could not match. Through two quarters, Murray and Gary Harris each had 13-points to lead the Nuggets offensively. Nikola Jokic also had a solid first half as he scored six points, while dishing out seven assists and hauling in seven rebounds.

Denver rode their momentum on into the second half as they began the third quarter on a 12-2 run, which allowed them to open up a 65-44 lead. The Nuggets were feeding off the energy of the Pepsi Center crowd as San Antonio had no answer of how to slow Denver down offensively. San Antonio on the other hand just had problems scoring themselves as they only had 49-points with 5:13 left in the third quarter. Denver had 73-points at that moment of the game as they held a commanding 24-point lead.

Jokic came alive to close the third quarter by scoring the Nuggets last eight points of the period. Six of those points came from beyond the arc as Jokic was on triple-double watch — 16 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists — going into the final quarter of play. Through three quarters, the Nuggets held an 85-63 lead as they continued to dominate in every phase of the game.

It would turn out that Jokic would fall just shy of another triple-double as he did not play one second of the fourth quarter. That was a great thing for Denver as they held such a big lead and were able to rest their starters the entire fourth quarter. The Nuggets relied on their bench unit to put San Antonio away, which is exactly what they did as Denver walked away with a 108-90 victory in Game 5.

Stat leaders for Denver were Murray, who had a tremendous game finishing with 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, 4-of-9 from three-point range. Jokic also had a great night as he fell just short of his second career playoff triple-double after scoring 16 points, hauling in 11 rebounds, and dishing out eight assists. Harris also played a major role in Denver’s victory as he finished with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field to go along with three makes from distance. Other Nuggets who finished in double-figures were Monte Morris (10), Malik Beasley (11), Paul Millsap (14), and Will Barton (17).

Denver now has a day off tomorrow before they are back in action on Thursday for Game 6. That game will be played in San Antonio, with time is still to be determined.

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