After three consecutive losses, the San Antonio Spurs rallied for a 101-90 victory over the Denver Nuggets Monday night in a matchup of two Northwest Division teams that need a win desperately.
After playing well early on and taking a 23-point lead into the fourth quarter, the Spurs began to fade in the final period with the Nuggets outscoring San Antonio 29-22. Entering the fourth with a 77-70 lead, the Spurs struggled on the offensive end by committing eight turnovers and shooting just 34.3 percent from the field. During one sequence in the fourth quarter, San Antonio had two potential-tying 3-pointers blocked out of bounds by Denver and then missed four consecutive free throws.
The Spurs made up for those offensive woes by not turning the ball over in the fourth quarter as they forced 15 Denver turnovers and rebounded 31 offensive rebounds. By the time the game ended, San Antonio had pulled even with Denver for the top spot in the Northwest Division.
With the victory, the Spurs improved to 14-5 overall while the Nuggets fell to 12-6.
Despite posting his third straight triple-double, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic finished with just nine points and 11 rebounds. Jokic now has 13 triple-doubles on the season, tying him with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the third-most in Nuggets history. Jokic is the first player in NBA history to post at least three straight triple-doubles from the start of a season and rank in the top 10 of the NBA in scoring (8th, 27.9 ppg), rebounding (7th, 11.8 rpg) and blocks (8th, 1.8 bpg).
Denver forward Kenneth Faried is the only player in the NBA this season who has more double-doubles (eight) than triple-doubles (seven).
Finishing the game with 13 points and 11 rebounds, Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson hit two big baskets down the stretch to help his team defeat the Utah Jazz 86-82 Monday night. The Wolves improved to 4-12 by winning for the fourth time in five games.
Playing with minimal energy, the Jazz had trouble matching the Timberwolves on the boards. Minnesota recorded 47 rebounds compared to Utah’s 30. For the game, Rubio finished with 16 points and 10 assists to help lead the way for the Wolves. In his first game back in the lineup after missing two contests due to back spasms, Wolves star guard Jimmy Butler shot just 2-of-10 from the field for seven points while David Nwaba posted nine points.
With a late-season focus on doing all the little things better, the Boston Celtics dominated the Toronto Raptors, 97-79, in Boston on Monday night. Tied heading into the fourth quarter, the Celtics built a nine-point lead in the final period and then ran the Raptors out of the gym.
Boston jumped on the Raptors from the opening tip and did so again in the fourth quarter when the Celtics finally pulled away. Al Horford led the way for the Celtics with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. In the last three games, Horford has 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists while shooting 53.3 percent from the field.
The Celtics improved to 10-7 while the Raptors dropped to 13-6.
The Orlando Magic dropped their seventh game in a row, losing 108-92 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. Marreese Speights poured in 27 points off the bench to lead the Clippers to the victory.
With an 18-35 record, the Pacers were the worst team in the Eastern Conference entering Monday night. Indiana upset the No. 2-seeded Indiana Pacers in a 94-87 upset Monday night, snapping the Pacers’ six-game winning streak. Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 25 points.
With the loss, the Pacers are 9-11.
Game of the Week: Boston at Miami
Boston (-16.5) at Miami on Wednesday night features two of the Eastern Conference’s hottest teams. The Celtics are undefeated since the All-Star break, winning seven straight. Just 2 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for second place in the East, the Celtics have won eight straight.
Miami, meanwhile, entered the All-Star break tied for first place in the Atlantic Division and are 9-2 since the break. The Heat began the season 0-5.