San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama [Source: Reuters]
Nikola Jokic had a season-high 39 points along with 11 rebounds and nine assists, Michael Porter Jr. scored 25 points and the host Denver Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurs 132-120 on Sunday night.
Reggie Jackson had 20 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 16 points and Julian Strawther added 10 points for Denver.
The Nuggets played without forward Aaron Gordon, who sat with a right heel strain. With Jamal Murray sidelined since early November, Denver was without two starters.
Victor Wembanyama had 22 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and four blocks, Devin Vassell scored 19 points, Malaki Branham added 15 points, Julian Champagnie finished with 13 points and Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones scored 10 each for the Spurs, who dropped their 12th straight.
San Antonio’s losing streak is the third longest in franchise history. Last season the Spurs lost 16 in a row (Jan. 20-Feb. 28) and they dropped 13 straight in 1988-89.
The Nuggets took a 39-35 lead after a high-scoring first quarter but expanded the lead in the second. Wembanyama scored five straight points to pull San Antonio within 42-40 but it was the closest it would get.
Jackson hit a reverse layup, fed DeAndre Jordan for another layup and then Jordan had a putback dunk of Porter’s missed 3-pointer. Strawther hit one from deep, Christian Braun and Jokic made layups and Braun sank two free throws in an 16-4 run by the Nuggets.
Jokic’s floating bank shot made it 68-48 with 3:07 left in the second quarter.
The Spurs scored eight straight at the end of the period to get within 72-60 at halftime and then got closer to start the third. After Caldwell-Pope hit an 18-footer to open the half San Antonio reeled off another seven points to make it 74-67.
Denver responded again to expand the lead behind two assists and a layup by Jokic during a 16-4 run. Jokic then scored six straight points to put the Nuggets ahead 101-77 late in the third, and they took a 107-84 advantage into the fourth quarter.
They led by as many as 28 in the final 12 minutes.