The Los Angeles Clippers played a game that helped show why they are a title favorite, and the Denver Nuggets played a game that helped show why they aren’t considered a title threat in any form or fashion.
Kawhi Leonard lead all scorers with 29 points, making 12 of his 16 shots in 31 easy minutes. The Clippers got scoring up and down their roster, with both teams emptying their benches early in the fourth quarter.
There weren’t really any positives for the Nuggets, and thankfully, the scoreboard will read 0-0 at the beginning of the next game.
Gary Harris was able to knock in his first shot, playing off Jokic for a dribble-handoff stepback midrange jumper. Both teams struggled to play clean basketball, making sloppy mistakes, but the Clippers were able to knock in some 3-pointers for their first couple of baskets. The Clippers started with Patrick Beverley on Jamal Murray, and the Nuggets starting point guard struggled to get separation from him or against Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers started with a double against Jokic when he’d get the ball, but the first time they did Jokic whipped an amazing pass to Murray, who knocked in a 3-pointer. Murray looked healthy on an explosive drive to the rim, rocketing between two defenders off a screen and finishing at the rim.
Gary Harris knocked in his second shot, this time with both feet behind the 3-point line to give the Nuggets a 20-18 lead. Jokic had a gorgeous drive to the rim against Zubac, spinning right and finishing off glass. Porter Jr. checked in, and while Marcus Morris scored on him, he contested the shot well. He goaltended the next shot, coming on a drive by Lou Williams, having to grab the rim in order to not take a violent tumble to the court. Jokic tied the game at 31 at the end of the quarter, dunking the ball with both hands off a pocket pass from Murray.
Porter Jr. continued to struggle, getting blocked on a dunk attempt by Harrell, then committing an offensive foul by charging over Lou Williams. Montrezl Harrell was able to get past Mason Plumlee a few times, getting fouled and knocking down his free throws. Torrey Craig made a 3-pointer to help end a Clippers run, and Monte Morris hit a jumper to knot the game back up at 36. Patrick Beverley had his hands all over another Clippers run, helping stretch their lead to 44-38.
After a timeout, the Clippers were able to continue their run courtesy of a few buckets by Leonard. The All-Star forward drove to the rim and finished with one hand, picking up the ball with just his right hand, never touching the ball with his left hand. Millsap threw away the ball again, his third turnover in just 11 minutes, then missed a 3-pointer on the next possession. George hit a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 13 points, with Harris turning the ball over after slipping on a drive. Zubac posterized Millsap, but the vet got the points back on the other end with a janky drive. Zubac countered with an alley-oop, and the Clippers offense was humming on all cylinders. Marcus Morris hit another 3-pointer from the left corner, pushing the score to 65-49. The Nuggets weren’t able to get clean look at the end of the quarter, and mercifully it came to close with Denver only down by 18.
The Nuggets didn’t make any changes to their starting lineup in the third quarter, rolling with the same squad that helped them to a 31-31 start. Jokic got a few shots to drop, but the Clippers were able to match them and maintain their lead. Millsap flipped in a 3-pointer from the right wing, then helped get a stop and was able to get to the free throw line in transition. Millsap tried driving against Morris, and airballed a shot trying to draw the foul, then Kawhi Leonard was able to get to the free throw line on the other end.
The Nuggets turned the ball over after a timeout, with Jokic fumbling a misplaced pass from Millsap. The Clippers continued to make shots while the Nuggets missed shots, with the lead for LA extending to 25 points with four minutes remaining in the quarter. Jokic tried pulling up for a 3-pointer, but it didn’t fall, and you could see the despair start to infect the entire team. Millsap and Grant both missed 3-pointers, as Malone decided to roll with his starting lineup deep into the quarter, despite a total lack of energy on the offensive and defensive sides of the court. They went over seven minutes with just two points scored, and a game that was already out of hand became a blowout in the third quarter. Porter Jr. got his first basket on his seventh attempt, courtesy of a hustle rebound from Mason Plumlee after the rookie badly missed a 3-pointer. That basket put the scoreboard at 91-67 at the end of the third quarter, with zero chance for a comeback in the final quarter.
Monte Morris hit back-to-back jumpers, but they weren’t able to get stop at the start of the fourth quarter. Both teams continued to keep five players per team on the court, and this game couldn’t get over soon enough. Bol Bol played — that’s how out of hand things got. The final score was 120-97.