SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio point guard Derrick White was screaming, flexing and stomping around the court after almost every basket against Denver.
It was completely out of character for White, but the mild-mannered point guard has never been in this situation before.
White had a career-high 36 points and the Spurs beat the Nuggets 118-108 on Thursday night, withstanding a first-half lapse to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.
“I just had a chip on my shoulder,” White said. “This is the way I’ve played since I was young. Just try to go out there, compete and have fun.”
Nikola Jokic had 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Denver.
Game 4 is Saturday in San Antonio, where the Spurs are 3-0 against the Nuggets this season.
White attacked Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray from the opening tip after being on the receiving end of Murray’s career outing Tuesday night. Murray had only six points, a game after scoring 21 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to help Denver overcome a 19-point deficit to even the series.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Derrick White, the last couple of days, has been reminded about Jamal Murray’s fourth-quarter performance,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Derrick White came out like he hadn’t eaten in two days. He came out hungry, he came out (ticked) off and he sent a very loud and clear message. I’m anxious to see our guys, how do we respond to that.”
White set his career high after being fouled by Paul Millsap on a driving layup that bounced off the side of the rim, hit the backboard and fell in to give the Spurs a 99-89 lead with 8:52 remaining. White added five rebounds, five assists and three steals while shooting 12 for 17. The point guard matched his overall career high with 26 points in the first half.
76ers 131, Nets 115: NEW YORK — Ben Simmons scored a career playoff-high 31 points, Tobias Harris added 29 points and 16 rebounds and Philadelphia shook off the absence of Joel Embiid to take a 2-1 series lead over Brooklyn. Without their All-Star man in the middle, the 76ers relied on Simmons slashing to the basket, and Harris and J.J. Redick shooting from the perimeter.
Warriors 132, Clippers 105: LOS ANGELES — Kevin Durant scored 38 points, Stephen Curry added 21 playing with five fouls, and Golden State Warriors dominated from the opening tip to beat Los Angeles. The Warriors began the game on a 22-9 tear and went on to shoot 73% from the floor in the first quarter, taking the crowd out of it early. Durant was perfect, making all five of his field goals and both free throws for 12 points.