The Nuggets dominated the Clippers from the opening tip, winning in dominating fashion with a 25 point home win.
Nikola Jokic had 19 points and 10 rebounds, playing just 21 minutes after struggling with foul trouble in the first half. Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Will Barton each scored 18 points, missing 12 shots in between the three of them on 33 attempts.
DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, but allowed Jokic to get under his skin and went to the bench in the third quarter after picking up a technical foul, ne’er to return to the game.
The game started well for the Nuggets, with a balanced scoring effort from the starting unit. Nikola Jokic got into a bit of foul trouble early, heading to the bench after committing an offensive foul on DeAndre Jordan as he tried to dribble down the court. Emmanuel Mudiay took four field goal attempts, and missed all of them, but they were open attempts and he wasn’t forcing things.
The Nuggets offense was cooking, and they finished with 27 points in the quarter. We were even blessed with a Jokic-Faried moment:
The Nuggets defense was outstanding in the first quarter, limiting the Clippers to 18 points, and wasn’t quite as good in the second quarter. Wilson Chandler had a nice quarter off the bench, finishing the first half with 9 points and 6 rebounds. The Nuggets did a nice job attacking the rim on offense, getting open looks after breaking down the defense.
The physical matchup with Jordan was difficult for Jokic again, with the Nuggets center picking up his third foul and going to the bench with just nine minutes in the half. Jamal Murray picked up three assists, and made his only field goal attempt with a pretty triple.
The third quarter was one of the best quarters for Jokic I’ve ever seen. He and Jordan were going at each other like lions, battling each other on both ends. Jordan would end up getting a technical foul after a karate chop on Jokic in the post, but not before Jokic was able to get a tip in, 3-pointer, and a midrange jumper. Jokic really got under Jordan’s skin, and getting the Clippers big man on the bench was huge.
After ending the third quarter with a 24 point lead, the Nuggets stomped all over the Clippers at the start of the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 35 points with 6:35 left. It was just total domination by the Nuggets starters, with the only starter not in double digits for single game plus/minus was Mudiay, who left the game early in the third with lower back soreness.
With 2:38 and the Nuggets up huge, Malone put in the end of the bench guys, with Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Mike Miller, Jamal Murray and Jusuf Nurkic finishing the game. They were able to keep the Clippers under 100 points, the first time they kept a team under 100 since December 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers. They even managed to score over 120 points again, just another great night on offense with Jokic in the starting lineup.
Jokic got mad. The Joker flashed his angry side, getting more vocal than I think I had ever seen him play. He and Jordan were slamming into each other like it was a demolition derby, with Jordan tossing Jokic to the ground while Jokic would hip check Jordan to the side to get an offensive rebound and putback.
Jokic seemed determined to not only beat Jordan and the Clippers, but to humiliate them. He was a man on a mission in the third quarter, and was easily the best player on the court. It was dang impressive.
The fans showed up. There were chants of “Let’s go Nuggets” resonating through the Pepsi Center during the game. The team seemed to be fueled by the energy the crowd brought, and fought for those fans that showed up. Good job tonight fans!
Let’s think good thoughts for Mudiay. The Nuggets point guard missed all eight of his field goal attempts, and got crushed by DeAndre Jordan in the third quarter on a screen. He was already feeling a little sore coming into the game, and after that big hit from Jordan, he checked out of the game and went to the locker room.
The Nuggets are already missing Gary Harris, who is out with an ankle injury. I’m a Jameer Nelson fan, but I don’t think anyone wants to see him having to play 35 minutes a night for the Nuggets.