DENVER – With the game on the line, San Antonio guard Derrick White stole the ball to help the Spurs win Game 1 in Denver 101-96.
The Spurs were leading 99-96 when the Nuggets' Jamal Murray lost the ball, White stole it and was fouled with 2.1 seconds left in the game. White made both of his free throws icing the game. That steal was key for White, who lost the ball himself with 1:09 left in the fourth and the Spurs leading 97-96.
"I was dissappointed I turned it over, but just tried to move to the next play," White said. "Try to make a play defensively. Do what it takes to help the team win."
LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 15 points on an off night of shooting the ball, was proud of how White handled himself.
"He's good. I think, at times, he gets in his head about mistakes or he overthinks the game," Aldridge said. "But when he's playing aggressive and when he's confident, our team is a totally different team. To see him bounce back and get that dunk, and just to play with confidence, it makes us better and I'm happy to see it."
White's first game-changing play happened in the third quarter when he grabbed a defensive rebound and then raced down the court for a monster slam dunk right over Denver's Paul Millsap, who fouled White on the play.
"Yeah, I was just pushing it and nobody stopped the ball, so I just attacked and made a play at the rim," White said.
His dunk was key in keeping the Nuggets behind. Denver had cut a 10-point third quarter deficit down to 3 points, and White's jam put the Spurs up 5 points and shifted the momentum back to their side.
"When he's aggressive like that, going to the rim, he's athletic enough, he can make things happen," Aldridge said. "That was big for us, because we all got some juice from it and I thought it kind of settled him down, and got back into rhythm."
White's first career NBA playoff start was bumpy to begin with. He picked up two personal fouls in the opening minutes and was benched the final 9:38 of the first quarter.
"Yeah, I mean, I probably started the game off a little too excited. Started fouling and running around, but after that I settled down and just played another game," he said.
The Colorado native, playing in front of 10 family members and friends, will need to be more calm at the start of game 2 Tuesday night, because Denver will be even more determined to win and leave the Mile High City with a split.