DeMar DeRozan had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Derrick White scored 16 and the San Antonio Spurs beat the host Denver Nuggets 101-96 in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Bryn Forbes scored 15 each for the seventh-seeded Spurs, who grabbed the lead early and never relinquished it.
Nikola Jokic had 10 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists for a triple-double in his first playoff game for Denver. Gary Harris had a game-high 20 points, and Jamal Murray scored 17.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday in Denver.
The Nuggets trailed by six when Harris hit a bank shot and a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 88-87 midway through the fourth. DeRozan answered with a fadeaway, and Davis Bertans hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to six again.
San Antonio led 97-94 with 1:34 left when Murray hit a floater to get it to one. After trading turnovers, the Spurs missed two chances, and Denver got the rebound and called a timeout with 13.3 seconds left. Murray missed a jumper, and Aldridge grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
He hit both free throws, and White stole the ball at halfcourt before hitting two free throws to seal it.
The Spurs led by five after the first quarter and heated up in the second. They made their first seven shots of the period on their way to a 12-point lead, even with Aldridge on the bench after picking up his third foul with 6:37 left in the quarter.
Rudy Gay hit two 3-pointers after Aldridge went out to keep the Nuggets from rallying, but Murray scored six of his 10 points in the final 2:24 to cut the deficit to 59-51 at halftime.
The Spurs hit their first shot of the third quarter before missing 10 straight, which allowed Denver to creep back into the game. Will Barton scored five quick points to cut San Antonio’s lead to 62-59, but both teams went cold, going scoreless for nearly three minutes.
White ended the drought with a dunk, and the Spurs got the lead to nine, but Denver scored the last five points of the third to make it 72-68 heading into the fourth.