Basketball

Coach Gregg Popovich tossed out as Nuggets trounce his Spurs

Nikola Jokic was just one assist shy of a triple-double yesterday morning (Singapore time), as he led the Denver Nuggets to a 113-85 NBA blowout of the San Antonio Spurs - who saw coach Gregg Popovich tossed just 63 seconds into the contest.

"Pop" called a time-out with the Spurs trailing 5-0 and promptly started arguing with a game official who called him for a technical foul.

Popovich didn't let up, and was hit with a quick second technical and ejected at 1:03 of the first quarter.

The Elias Sports Bureau called it the quickest ejection of a coach since Flip Saunders of the Wizards was tossed 1:46 into a game at Boston in 2012.

Popovich had some fun with it when he gate-crashed Nuggets head coach Mike Malone's post-game press conference, feigning surprise at Malone's report that "Somebody got thrown out in 63 seconds".

Otherwise there wasn't much for the Spurs to smile about as the Nuggets, second in the West behind the Golden State Warriors, dominated.

Jokic scored 20 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out nine assists.

Jamal Murray finished with 14 points, 11 assists and six rebounds and Monte Morris and Malik Beasley scored 19 points apiece as the Nuggets snapped a two-game skid.

"My favourite stat tonight is 41 assists," Malone said. "You make 47 shots with 41 assists, that's what we stressed today.

"Everyone was worried about our shooting struggles, but as long as we're generating good shots and playing for each other, that's all we care about."

Western Conference contenders Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers also won.

The Rockets crushed the Los Angeles Clippers 135-103 in what could have been a preview of a first-round play-off match-up.

James Harden and Chris Paul combined for 60 points, making 19 of 34 shots with 14 assists. The Rockets stayed a half-game in front of the Trail Blazers, who beat Memphis 116-89, for third place. - AFP

OTHER RESULTS: Detroit 89 Indiana 108, Orlando 114 New York 100, Washington 114 Chicago 115 , Atlanta 130 Philadelphia 122, Brooklyn 105 Toronto 115, Miami 102 Boston 112, New Orleans 109 Charlotte 115, Dallas 108 Minnesota 110, Phoenix 97 Utah 118.

Basketball