48 hours after being obliterated by 23 points in Game 1, the Denver Nuggets responded with a crucial victory in Game 2 to even the series.
The one-two punch of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray was clicking once again, while an uncharacteristically bad game from Kawhi Leonard left the LA Clippers needing more.
For more on the Nuggets commanding Game 2 win, we have you covered with some takeaways below.
Jokic steps up
Teammate Jamal Murray has been in the spotlight for the majority of these playoffs, but in Game 2, that spotlight belonged to Nikola Jokic.
Jokic was immaculate from the jump in this one, getting out to a roaring start in the first quarter scoring 15 points on a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point land to go with eight boards. He wouldn't slow down there, either, tallying a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds by halftime.
HUGE first half for Nikola Jokic on TNT. #NBAPlayoffs- NBA (@NBA) September 6, 2020
24 PTS | 10 REB | 2 BLK | 4-4 3PM pic.twitter.com/JgIGbQQGUS
He was the best player on the floor the entire game, finishing with 26 points, 18 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, shooting 10-for-17 from the field and 4-for-5 from 3. While his scoring and rebounding stands out, you know The Joker was providing his team with ridiculous dimes, too.
Jokic rebound & outlet in one motion! 🤯- NBA (@NBA) September 6, 2020
📺: @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/xVzfN8XHDN
It was crucial that the Nuggets would not let the Clippers pummel them in consecutive games to take a 2-0 lead. Their All-Star centre made certain that they would even the series with a performance like this one.
Kawhi's silent night
Kawhi Leonard has been an unstoppable force in this postseason... until this Game 2.
Leonard went into this contest averaging 32.3 points per game shooting an efficient 56.2% from the field. He had only been held under 30 points twice - each time tallying 29 points.
In the Clippers' blowout Game 1 win, he was the most dominant player on the floor scoring 29 points on 16 shots. In Game 2, life was made much more difficult for the reigning Finals MVP.
The Nuggets were all over Leonard, forcing him to take tough shots. As a result, he would finish the game with just 13 points - his lowest playoff scoring output since 2016. He also shot an uncharacteristic 4-for-17 (23.5%) from the field, his worst playoff shooting performance since 2015.
He was still able to grab 10 boards and dish out eight assists in a near triple-double effort, but without his scoring, the Clippers simply couldn't keep up with Denver in this one.
Will the Nuggets be able to continue to make life tough on Leonard? The answer to that question will likely decide this series.
Gary Harris gets going
A hip injury had prevented Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris from taking the floor at all during the bubble's seeding games. That ailment lingered into the postseason, forcing Harris to miss the first five games of Denver's first-round series against the Utah Jazz.
When he finally took the floor for Games 6 and 7, he wasn't able to shake off the foreseeable rust that would come with not playing in a real game since back in March. The typical 3-and-D wing couldn't find his touch from the perimeter, shooting a combined 1-for-7 from beyond the arc in the Nuggets' final two games of their first-round series.
In the Clippers' Game 1 blowout against Denver, Harris was rather absent there, too. He went 1-for-4 from 3 and made minimal impact on the defensive end, yet to really make his presence felt.
At the end of Game 2, the lid finally came off the rim for Harris.
He only scored 13 points, but nine of those 13 helped close out the Clippers in the fourth quarter. Harris went a perfect 3-for-3 from 3 in the final frame, putting the final touch on a vital win to even the Conference Semifinals series.
Back-to-back 👌s for Gary Harris!@nuggets 99@LAClippers 86- NBA (@NBA) September 6, 2020
6:11 left on @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/bmYJ6h72ud
If the Nuggets can get the best version of Harris - on both ends of the floor - he has the potential to be a major X-factor in this series.
Murray bounces back
Jamal Murray had morphed into the human torch to keep the Nuggets' season alive, but his struggles from the first rounds' Game 7 carried into Game 1 of this series.
After scoring 142 points from Games 4 to 6 against the Jazz, Murray combined for just 29 points between Game 7 of that series and Game 1 against the Clippers.
The Blue Arrow bounced back in Game 2, going for 27 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals. Nothing will get the mojo going again like this killer step-back jumper on one of the league's best defenders to seal the game.
Murray.- NBA (@NBA) September 6, 2020
It's no surprise that Murray's success coincided with a win for the Nuggets. Denver will need the first-round version of their budding star point guard if they're going to continue to knock games off of the Clippers.
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