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Denver moves into 3rd in West with 110-104 win over Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Denver is missing some key pieces to its backcourt. As long as the Nuggets have Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr., they remain one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Jokic had 30 points and 14 rebounds, Porter scored 25 points, and Denver extended its winning streak to five games with a 110-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night to move into the third seed in the West.

“We are winning games. The offense hasn’t been pretty, but it has been a top-five defense lately,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Jokic showed once again on the road against a good team why he is the front-runner for MVP. He puts the team on his back. That is what big players do.”

Denver, a half-game in front of Los Angeles at 43-21, is 9-1 since Jamal Murray went down with a torn ACL in his left knee on April 12. Murray, who is rehabbing in LA, was at the game.

It also misses guards Monte Morris and Will Barton, who average 23 points due to hamstring injuries. “We wanted to test ourselves and see where we were with some guys. It was a big win, and we were excited,” said Porter, averaging 25.6 points since Murray’s injury.


Jokic scored 18 points during the third quarter, including seven straight during a decisive run that would give the Nuggets the lead for the rest of the game. Los Angeles trailed 52-47 at halftime, but Reggie Jackson’s step-back 3-pointer completed a 10-4 run at the start of the third quarter to put the Clippers back on top. LA lost momentum on the next trip down the floor when Paul George received a flagrant one foul with 8:54 remaining in the period for a shoulder block and push to Facundo Campazzo.

A pair of free throws by Campazzo and seven points by Jokic put Denver up 65-57 midway through the quarter. Denver would lead by as many as 11 in the period and go into the fourth up 83-73. PJ Dozier’s pull-up jumper gave the Nuggets a 101-91 lead with 3:32 remaining before the Clippers scored seven straight points to make it a one-possession game. After a Denver timeout, DeMarcus Cousins was called for a foul as Jokic attempted a 3-pointer. Jokic made all three free throws to give the Nuggets breathing room.

Campazzo added a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 107-98 with 1:08 remaining.

“Porter continues to develop his game, and the whole bench has been stepping up and playing well. Everyone is bringing the energy that we need,” Jokic said.

George led the Clippers with 20 points but shot 5 of 21 from the field. Rajon Rondo added a season-high 18 points, and Kawhi Leonard, who returned to the lineup after missing the last five games due to right foot soreness, scored 16.

Cousins also scored 16 for LA (43-22), which has dropped its last three and snapped a seven-game home winning streak. “We couldn’t follow the game plan as wellwell as we needed. Just a lot of small things that we must continue being detailed about and understand what we are trying to do,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought Kawhi eased into it. He didn’t play with his normal pace of attacking and getting to the basket. Not playing in nine or ten games, though, that is to be expected.”

The Clippers started strong, making their first seven shots from the field to take an 18-7 lead. But Los Angeles’ hot shooting didn’t continue as it went 10 of 36 the remainder of the first half.

Denver narrowed the margin to one 28-27 at the end of the first quarter and then took its first lead with 10:37 remaining in the second quarter on JaMychal Green’s 3-pointer. The game was tied at 36-all before the Nuggets scored eight straight points for their largest lead of the first half.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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