DENVER – Derrick White saw an opening, got up and threw a thunderous dunk over Paul Millsap who shook the Pepsi Center in the third quarter on Saturday.
But it was not even the biggest game of the night for the San Antonio leaders. Siding aside a turnaround that he committed with just over a minute in a tight match, White pushed the ball away from Jamal Murray with 2.1 seconds to allow the Spurs of San Antonio to win the first game of the Denver Nuggets 101-96. -of seven rounds of the first round.
The seventh seeded Spurs stole the first game on the second-seeded Nuggets road, but it's White who stole the show. Growing up and playing his ball in high school not far from Denver before playing at the University of Colorado, White had a comeback so impressive that he let his coach Gregg Popovich impressed. White made 7 out of 10 shots and had 16 points and five assists in her first playoff start.
Responding to a total of four questions combined in his pre-match and post-match press conferences, Popovich was seductive when asked about White's night.
"It's spectacular for someone who has been put in this position," said Popovich, who became the most successful head coach and overtook Lenny Wilkens with 1,413 career wins in the season regular and in the playoffs. "Learning this position with a group of new players is really remarkable when he did what he did, so hopefully he will continue to play this way because it's going to be a long series."
White, who took the opportunity as a starting point guard because of Dejounte Murray's pre-season injury to the ACL was a thorn in the Nuggets' side. San Antonio led by 12 points in the second quarter before the Nuggets started in the third. Denver got a score of 62-59, but White came out of nowhere to give Millsap a boost, while it was 6:14 pm in the third to temporarily halt Denver's momentum.
"I was just pushing and nobody stopped the ball then [I was] attack and try to play a role at the rim, "said White, who wanted to focus on the playoff game and thus limited his friends and family members to a total of 10 tickets for his return home." [saw] him at the edge, just thought I would try it. It's just about everything. "
The Nuggets reduced their deficit by seven points in the fourth quarter to a double, thanks in part to Nikola Jokic's triple-double of 10 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. Jokic has only become the fourth player to record a triple double in his first playoff game and the first since LeBron James in 2006, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The Whites returned the ball with 1:09 left and the Nuggets reduced by one, but Murray missed a 3 pointers and then an 18-foot opening and the Nuggets returned the ball twice, the last on White's win against Murray in the match. The back of the pitch while the Nuggets goalkeeper carried the ball to the field with a chance to connect the score with a 3-pointer.
Murray, who scored 17 points but rose to 0 from 6 on a 3-point distance, while the Nuggets only shot 21.4% from behind, was so frustrated that he stayed long after match on the training ground to get shots from the places he missed in the first match.
"I was just shooting," said Murray. "I'm frustrated."
While Murray was shooting, White was putting on an old-school Spurs retro after messing up the Nuggets' first game in the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, when George Karl was their head coach.
When asked what he enjoyed more – the dunk or the flight – White gave an answer that would have made Popovich smile.
"The victory," said the sophomore. "By far the victory."