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Keldon Johnson’s 27 points led a strong showing by the Spurs starters in Denver

Johnson nearly matches career high in 102-96 loss to the Nuggets.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs took their first loss of the 2021-22 season on Friday, getting edged out on the road by the Denver Nuggets, 102-96. It was an ugly night on offense for both teams, as they combined to turn the ball over 41 times. The Spurs’ bench was decimated by the Nuggets’, getting outscored 30-18. But San Antonio’s starting five proved they could hang tough with Denver’s.

Keldon Johnson led the way for the silver and black, putting up 27 points — two shy of matching his career high — four rebounds, two assists and a team-best three steals. He missed both of his shots from long range, but made a few old-fashioned 3-pointers to get the Spurs’ offense humming early, scoring all of the team’s first seven points.

San Antonio trailed by three at halftime and gave up a layup to start the third quarter, but they came roaring back with a 9-0 run, punctuated by a pair of steal-and-scores from Dejounte Murray. The point guard finished the evening with 15 points, nine boards and six dimes.

Derrick White and Jakob Poeltl each added double-digit points. White didn’t have a particularly efficient night scoring, making 5-of-13 from the field and 2-of-7 from deep for 16 points, but did hand out a team-high eight assists and tallied the team’s only two blocks in the game.

Poeltl had his hands full guarding the reigning NBA MVP for most of the game — Nikola Jokic put up a 32-17-7 stat line, but did commit six turnovers. The big man didn’t let it stop him from helping out on the offensive end, though, where he was especially useful rolling to the rim.

Make sure to catch the full game highlights below: