The San Antonio Spurs confirmed their entry into the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs on Tuesday. They defeated the Denver Nuggets 116-97 away while the Los Angeles Lakers lost 110-121 at the Phoenix Suns and missed the postseason. Jakob Pöltl from Vienna surpassed the 3000 mark in the league with 14 points. In addition, the 26-year-old center from Vienna contributed eight rebounds and three assists in 22:55 minutes.
Although the Spurs continued to be without top scorer Dejounte Murray, who was ill, they proved to be the stronger team in Denver’s ball arena. Led by Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell (20 points each), six players scored in double digits. Pöltl now has 3,008 career points in the NBA. Nikola Jokic on the Nuggets side was the outstanding player of the evening with 41 points and 17 rebounds, but the reigning league “MVP” only had offensive support from Aaron Gordon (18).
Spurs were “very focused despite the lack of key players,” said Pöltl. “When a 21-point lead dwindled to four, we stayed calm and hit the winning run to claim our first win in Denver in five years. With the subsequent Lakers defeat, our mission was accomplished. I’m very proud of our achievements over the past few weeks and we’re looking forward to continuing to fight for the playoffs,” said the home NBA pioneer.
San Antonio has secured tenth place in the Western Conference and can still speculate on ninth place. With three games left in the regular season, the New Orleans Pelicans are missing a win over what is certainly their opponent in the first round of playoff qualifiers. It’s about home advantage. The Spurs travel to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday. The Pelicans host the Portland Trail Blazers.