Could the Nuggets series be in danger with this move to the Clippers without Nikola Jokic? Without a doubt. Even if on the Los Angeles side, as is the case recently, Paul George was also absent. Driven by an aggressive Kawhi Leonard, Tyronn Lue’s troops started the game well. The winger chained the baskets, Nicolas Batum scored an award-winning shot (his only points of the match) and the Californian team was ahead in the score at the end of the first quarter (34-32).
The Nuggets respond with excellent ball circulation, allowing easy baskets to accumulate near the circle. Even if Los Angeles had a seven-point lead at one point, the game was very balanced and the score at the break proves it: 58-57 for Los Angeles. In the second half, the leaders of the Western conference are accelerating. They pass a 9-0 and take control in the third quarter. The big dunks of Kawhi Leonard (24 points) and John Wall please the public but they do not change the dynamics of the match. Even without its double MVP pivot, Denver is solid.
A basket behind the arc of Robert Covington and free throws from Wall allow the Clippers to be only five points behind at the start of the last act. But Jamal Murray (24 points), Aaron Gordon and company drive the point home with a 10-0 in the last quarter. The Clippers are overwhelmed, stumble on the Denver defense and logically bow 103-115.
With seven players at nine points or more, the collective of Denver made forget the absence of Jokic and dominated a duo Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris (40 points) lonely. It’s a fifth straight victory for the Nuggets, who thus confirm their first place in the Western Conference and win a reference victory without their best player. For Los Angeles, times are hard because it is a seventh defeat in eight matches.