SAN ANTONIO, Texas – In hopes of finding a spark to start the fourth game, Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone decided to make a change to the starting lineup by adding Torrey Craig to the striker. Will Barton.
And the move paid off as Craig racked up 18 points in 37 minutes to help the Nuggets equalize their NBA first-round playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs 2-2 after a 117-103 win on Saturday night. .
Malone had resisted any change in the starting lineup in the first three games, staying true to Barton. But Barton missed 12 of 13 3-point markers in the first three games of the series and scored only 12 points on 3 out of 10 shots in 15 minutes in the fourth game.
Prior to Saturday night's game, Malone said the Spurs' custody shutdown, Derrick White, was a priority. The Whites entered Match 4 with an average of 23 points and 69% after scoring a career high of 36 points in the Spurs Match 3 win on Thursday.
Denver only granted eight points to the 24-year-old athlete in the fourth game. The increase in Craig's minutes on Saturday night gave the Nuggets another defensive option to slow White down.
Craig gave the Nuggets a spark on the bench in Game 3, scoring 12 points, six rebounds and a solid defense. He was rewarded in match 4 with the second highest number of minutes of the team behind center star Nikola Jokic, and added 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block to his 18 points.
"Our guys have responded," Malone said after the match. "It was not just veterinarians." It was a lot of young guys. "Torrey Craig has his first start in the playoffs." He was in the G League last year and he has that kind of match . "
Before the game, Malone said he would challenge Jamal Murray, who struggled to score 21 points in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets' second game win, to move up a gear in the fourth game.
Murray responded, scoring 24 points on 8 shots of 14 in 33 minutes.
"I'm still bouncing," said Murray after the game.