SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Spurs had a great opportunity to take control of their first round series against Denver, but let another one get away, falling to the Nuggets in Game 4 at home, 117-103.
The series is now tied 2-2 with a pivotal Game 5 in Denver on Tuesday night.
It was a frustrating night for Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, who got tossed for tossing the ball at the referee with 5:01 left in the game and the Spurs down 18 points, 110-92.
DeRozan was driving down the lane against Gary Harris and got called for a charge.
"Frustration. I thought it was a bad call. Combination of both," said DeRozan who finished 19 points.
Here’s the play that got DeMar DeRozan ejected...he flung the ball toward the ref after an offensive foul call...Spurs fall to Nuggets in Game 4...#KSATsports #KSATnews #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/CN5SoBqiRk — RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) April 21, 2019
DeMar DeRozan on ejection: “Frustration. I thought it was a bad call. Combination of both.” Also talks about some of what went wrong for Spurs tonight...#KSATsports #KSATnews #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/Ovjz4PSJqa — RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) April 21, 2019
DeRozan got an early shower, but he could have been joined by LaMarcus Aldridge, who did not play in the fourth quarter despite wanting to go back in the game.
"Of course, but I didn't go back in. The game was about 13 or 15 points and so that's not why we lost," Aldridge said. "Coach didn’t put me in, that was it."
📹LaMarcus Aldridge on not playing 4Q: "I just didn’t go back in. Coach didn’t put me in, that was it." Asked if Pop explained why: "The game was a 13,15 point (deficit). That’s not why we lost." Spurs-Nuggets series tied 2-2. Game 5 Tuesday. #KSATsports #KSATnews #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/LEQ6m1dRlw — RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) April 21, 2019
Aldridge finished with 24 points and nine rebounds. Nuggets all-star Nikola Jokic scored 29 points and had 12 rebounds with eight assists to pace Denver.
After a Game 3 loss, Nuggets head coach Mike Malone preached to his team about becoming more physical with the Spurs.
"I think our guys understood how we needed to play and they answered the call," Malone said. "We went out there and we were much more physical, and we were able to pull out the win."
Early on, it appeared as if the Nuggets had not heeded their coaches word.
The Spurs held a 12-point lead after the first quarter, but Denver took over. The Spurs didn't exactly perform to a winning standard after that.
"It was poor. Overall, the Nuggets competed and we did not," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. "Their physicality was obvious from the get-go. You knew that was going to happen and we did not respond."
Popovich reaction to Spurs Game 4 loss to Nuggets...said it was a poor performance and Denver competed, Spurs did not...also said Aldridge is fine despite not playing in 4Q...#KSATsports #KSATnews #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/o00iI79oNA — RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) April 21, 2019
"They just wanted it more that we did," said Derrick White, who was held to just eight points in Game 4 after scoring 36 in the previous outing.
The Spurs have now lost homecourt advantage and will get a chance to respond in Game 5.
"There is no doubt in my mind next game we're definitely going to approach it like its a must win for us." said DeRozan. "So it's definitely going to be a battle next game."
The Nuggets won in San Antonio for the first time since 2012. Tip-off for Game 5 is Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.
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