A day after the Nuggets lost a shocker against the Cleveland Cavaliers at home, they bounced back with a clinical win against the Los Angeles Clippers. They survived a scare late in the fourth as the Clippers made a run but they held their nerve, knocked down free-throws and won their first of three contests against the LA franchise.
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Both teams were missing key players in Paul Millsap (Nuggets) and Paul George (Clippers) but the hosts clinched this one behind a big second quarter.
Here are the takeaways from a game that the Nuggets led by as many as 20:
Jokic stars, Nuggets score by committee
Seven Nuggets finished in double figures led by Jamal Murray's 19 while Nikola Jokic was the biggest contributor with 20 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists in 31 minutes.
They recorded 24 assists on their 37 field goals, shot 37-of-77 from the field (48.1%) and 11-of-25 from beyond the arc (44.0%) - all higher numbers than the Clippers.
In the game-altering second quarter, where the Nuggets outscored the Clippers 37-22, every player that checked into the game scored a point.
MPJ caught fire with 7 straight points in just 1 minute and 2 seconds!#MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/l3s8lyErkE- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 13, 2020
Michael Porter Jr. opened the period on a personal 7-0 run while Gary Harris top scored (4-5 FG's) with 12 for the period as the Nuggets made 14 of their 23 shot attempts.
👀👀👀👀👀#MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/DZtqe3M4c5- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 13, 2020
In return, they held the Clippers to just 22 points (8-18 FG's).
Clippers' inconsistency continues
With this loss, the Clippers have failed to win three straight games for nearly a month (since Dec. 13) in Minnesota.
Including this clash, in their last 13 games, the Clippers have gone just above .500 with a 7-6 record. Over this span, both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have missed three games but never together.
Both these stars missing games regularly means the Clippers frequently switch up their lineups and rotations, struggling to find consistency. They have lost games in Chicago, Oklahoma City and against the Memphis Grizzlies in Los Angeles.
During this span, their offense seems to be taking care of itself with a top 5 rating of 133.3. Their defense, that ranked 3rd until December, has slipped and is ranked 16th during these last 13 games with a rating of 110.6.
Road heavy path ahead for both teams
Both the Nuggets and Clippers are formidable teams at home. While the Nuggets have won 16 of their 27 games in Denver and the Clippers have won 17 of their 27 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
But both teams have road-heavy schedules leading up to the All-Star break in mid-February.
The Nuggets play nine of their 16 games on the road. On the other hand, the Clippers travel for 10 of their next 16 leading up to the All-Star break.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.