The Denver Nuggets bounced back from a two-game losing streak to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 127-115 at the Ball Arena on Tuesday night. Nikola Jokic was dominant with 30 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, while seven other Denver players scored in double digits.
Aaron Gordon was in attack mode and finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists but also did all the little things.
“Sometimes I have to make myself do some kind of intangible play whether it’s offensive rebounds or quick play or offensive fouls,” Gordon said. It can be in the game. Game within game, that’s what keeps me going.”
Jeff Green and Bones Hyland also had 16 points. Monte Morris scored 15 points and went 3-3 from distance. He also made some great plays.
Nikola every night,” said Michael Malone. really good job defending the three-point line.”
Denver went out of their way to provide 30-plus assists every night and made some big games where the ball movement was incredible. The Nuggets are currently second in terms of assists per game with an average of 27.5.
The Nuggets shot 54% from the field and 50% from outside the arc while holding the Clippers to just 31% from outside the arc for the game and 29% in the second half.
Obviously the Nuggets are a very good basketball team even though they are not at full strength, so most of the time when they lose it is due to their lack of effort not their lack of skill. They know they have to do better to close the season.
“You just play with more effort,” Morris says of what Denver has to do better consistently. “You are who you are in this season. You know why you win and you know why you lose, so at this point we really know why we lose sometimes. This is his endeavor. I don’t think that effort was in Cleveland or against Boston.”
Denver took control of their game against Los Angeles early on with a 37-27 lead late in the first quarter. Jokic scored 14 in the first set with five rebounds.
In the second quarter, the Nuggets took a 46-34 lead until the Clippers cruised 14-5 to three points adrift. That’s when Denver’s ball movement started to click and Barton knocked down a triple and Morris hit two in a row to go up 72-59. Jokic closed the first half with a tip-in at the buzzer to give the Nuggets a 74-61 first-half lead.
Denver remained in control in the third quarter and led by 14 points. Both teams did little offensively and scored 27 points each but the Nuggets still have a 99-88 advantage.
The Clippers opened the fourth quarter 5-0 but the Nuggets responded 8-2 to take a 107-95 lead. The Clippers called for a timeout and responded 5-0 to cut the lead to seven. Then Denver called for a timeout but Los Angeles continued to attack and got the two points with just under five minutes in regulation. That’s when Morris came on clutch and knocked out a top three time and then Jeff Green followed suit to give the Nuggets a 117-109 lead. The Nuggets eventually capped it off to win it 127-115.
The Nuggets are now back in sixth place with a 43-30 record and a full game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their main objective for the rest of the season is to avoid play-in games which is something the players really emphasize.
Unfortunately for Denver, it played the best team in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns, this Thursday and the team that has struggled all season in the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. It will also face the Timberwolves next week, which is a very tough schedule to close the regular season but the Nuggets are making no excuses and have high hopes for the rest of the season.
“At the moment there are nine games left, no excuses,” said Malone. It can’t be a question of effort. Did we play hard enough? Do we have enough urgency? It’s outside the window. We have to do that. If we lose, it has to be another team that is better h was kind of us that night.”