SAN ANTONIO • Playing with aggression was key on Thursday night for the San Antonio Spurs, who were not about to exit quietly in their first-round series with the Denver Nuggets after delivering a dominating 120-103 win to force a deciding Game 7.
With the victory in Game 6 at home at the AT&T Centre, the Spurs kept their National Basketball Association (NBA) play-off hopes alive after losing two straight to trail 3-2.
"We had to come out aggressive," said San Antonio guard DeMar DeRozan.
"At half-time, we discussed how we were getting out-rebounded and we tried to buckle down, and did a better job in the second half. Everybody fell in line.
"They've been great at throwing a punch at us and running away with it.
"We tried to sustain that and understand that whatever they do, we have to match it, be more aggressive, understand we have to keep our rhythm, being aggressive on both ends and we did that."
My performance is probably the best of my career, but it was not enough.
NIKOLA JOKIC, Denver Nuggets centre, after scoring 43 points - a franchise record and a career high - in the 120-103 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs will have to keep up their fighting spirit if they are to clinch the series today in Denver, where the second-seeded Nuggets had the best home record (34-7) in the NBA regular season - just ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks (33-8).
Denver have also won two of their three games in the series at home.
LaMarcus Aldridge poured in 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and DeRozan had 25 points for the Spurs, who were the better team off the bench and down the stretch.
Rudy Gay added 19 points, while Derrick White and Bryn Forbes scored 13 and 12 points respectively for San Antonio, the seventh seeds in the Western Conference.
"Rudy Gay off the bench was a huge factor," said Nuggets coach Mike Malone.
"You knew at some point he was going to make an imprint on the series and he did tonight in a big way."
Nikola Jokic, meanwhile, scored 43 points to set the Nuggets' franchise play-off record in the loss.
The total was a career high for the Serbian star, who also grabbed 12 rebounds and recorded nine assists.
Malone added that his team were hampered by too many careless turnovers, although the statistics showed that both sides conceded seven each.
"It was turnovers for us and it was offensive rebounds for them. And just no defence," he said.
"The attention to detail was not there tonight and we have to be much better next game."
Denver survived the Spurs' quick start and came back in the second quarter to take a brief 50-47 lead.
San Antonio led by five points to start the fourth, but scored the first eight points of the period to compile a 98-85 lead.
A three-pointer by Forbes, as the shot clock ran down with 7min 28sec to play, capped a 15-2 run and pushed San Antonio's lead to 105-87, and Denver never got closer than 15 points for the remainder of the game.
"We had a lot of people participate tonight," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
"A lot of people came and had good games.
"I think the Nuggets have had that pretty regularly and we had that tonight, so that was great to see."