Nuggets' Craig shines in Game 4 start vs. Spurs

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- In hopes of finding a spark to start Game 4, Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone decided to make a change to the starting lineup, inserting Torrey Craig at forward for Will Barton.

And the move paid off, as Craig exploded for 18 points in 37 minutes to help the Nuggets tie their first-round NBA playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs 2-2 after a 117-103 victory Saturday night.

Malone had resisted making any changes to the starting lineup in the first three games, sticking with the struggling Barton. But Barton missed 12 of 13 3-pointers in the first three games of the series, and scored just 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting in 15 minutes in Game 4.

Malone said before Saturday night's game that stopping Spurs guard Derrick White was a priority. White entered Game 4 averaging 23 points and shooting 69 percent after scoring a career-high 36 points in the Spurs' Game 3 victory Thursday.

Denver held the 24-year-old to just 8 points on eight shots in Game 4, as Craig's increased minutes Saturday night let Gary Harris switch off DeMar DeRozan and onto White.

Craig provided the Nuggets with a spark off the bench in Game 3, scoring 12 points, grabbing six rebounds and playing tough defense. He was rewarded in Game 4 with the second-most minutes on the team behind star center Nikola Jokic, and added 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block to his 18 points.

"Our guys answered," Malone said after the game. "It wasn't just vets. It was a lot of young guys. Torrey Craig gets his first playoff start. He was in the G League last year and he has that kind of a game."

Malone said before the game he was going to challenge Jamal Murray, who has struggled outside of scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets' Game 2 win, to step his game up in Game 4.

Murray responded, scoring 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting in 33 minutes.

"I always bounce back," Murray said after the game.