DENVER – Following his Game 3 outburst when he scored a career-high 36 points, Spurs guard Derrick White has been kept in check by the Denver Nuggets' defense the last two games, combining for a total of 20 points. It's all part of the learning curve for the second-year guard.
"He's basically a young kid who's feeling his way," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Playoffs are different than the regular season. He's growing and every night is an education, whether he plays poorly or whether he's great. He's a willing young man and is going to have a great future, but he's got to have this kind of experience. Hopefully, he'll bounce back on Thursday."
After Game 3, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said White scored the easiest 36 points he ever had. Denver's defense got the message, and since then, nothing has come easy for White.
"They are just being more physical and not letting me get to my spot. So I'll have to make an adjustment here," White said.
Compounding his efforts in Game 5, White picked up his fourth personal foul with 11:01 left in the third quarter and was forced to take a seat, returning with 2:50 left in the third.
"I can't let it be a distraction," White said. "I just have to fight through it, be smarter defensively so I don't put myself in that situation. That fourth one was pretty frustrating, especially so early in the second half."
Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge, a veteran of 70 career NBA playoff games, has no doubt White will bounce back.
"Derrick's going to be good," Aldridge said. "He found a little rhythm late. He's a young player, but he's going to be good and he's figuring it out. When you become a major factor in a game plan, it takes time to figure it out."
The Nuggets lead the Spurs 3-2 in the best-of-seven playoff series, and now, the Spurs have to win two straight to keep their season alive.
"I mean, throughout the whole year, every time we've been doing real bad and it's real low, we usually respond well. That's just the guys in this locker room," White said.
Game 6 is Thursday, April 25, at 7 p.m. CT at the AT&T Center.