Clippers Overcome Late Scare, Beat Nuggets
LOS ANGELES — The Clippers (23-21) extend their season-best winning streak to six after beating the Nuggets (23-22), 109-104
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers win/loss.
1) Unusual suspects close game —
The Clippers flipped the script at the end of the game on Wednesday. Usually, Lou Williams and Blake Griffin are the closers, with everything going through them. Tonight, it was a new assortment. The Clippers and Nuggets traded buckets late in the fourth. Milos Teodosic scored five crucial points in back-to-back possessions. With about two minutes remaining and a four-point lead, Wesley Johnson picked up a loose ball in the corner, pulled up and made the three, pushing the Clippers lead to six. On the final possession, holding only a two-point lead following missed free throws by L.A., Tyrone Wallace locked down WIll Barton, forcing a turnover and securing the victory.
By night’s end, Teodosic scored a career-high with 15 points, including three three-pointers. Johnson added 15 points of his own, the second most he has scored on the year, and Wallace added 9 points and 7 rebounds.
2) Goon Squad changes game —
STAPLES Center was quiet, and the Clippers weren’t giving them much to cheer about. The Nuggets created a double-digit lead late in the third, forcing Doc Rivers to call a timeout. Whatever Rivers said, over the next 1:30, the Clippers erased the lead, led by a bench-centric unit. Montrezl Harrell and Jawun Evans started off the run, with starter Tyrone Wallace draining a three, as well as self-proclaimed ‘Goon Squad’ leader Lou Williams hitting another.
On another night without DeAndre Jordan, Harrell earned the right to finish the game with the starters. Harrell contributed 18 points and 8 rebounds, including two big free throws when the Nuggets intentionally fouled him.
3) Harris prompts Nuggets second quarter run—
With seven minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Nuggets trailed the Clippers by one. Then, Gary Harris happened. First, he hit a 26-foot three to give the Nuggets a two-point lead. On the next possession, Harris scored on an easy layup. After a Clippers bucket, Harris drove towards the rim, and nearly threw down a monstrous dunk, but was fouled by Willie Reed. Harris made both free throws. From Harris’s first points to the end of the quarter, the Nuggets went from down one, to up nine.
Harris finished with 19 points, leading Denver. Nikola Jokic scored 18, and Will Barton added 17 of his own.
4 ) Clipper stars solid —
With so many teammates playing big late in the game, Griffin and Williams were able to play more of the facilitator roles. Griffin matched his season-high in rebounds, grabbing 12, with 9 coming in the first half. Griffin led the Clippers in scoring with 20 points on 9-of-19 shooting. Williams streak of scoring 20+ ended, as the guard finished with 17 points, but he did add 5 assists, co-leading the team with Teodosic.
5) Nuggets pack the paint —
In the first quarter, the Nuggets scored 27 points, 20 of which occured in the paint. Mason Plumlee matched his season average in the first, scoring 7 points. With DeAndre Jordan missing another game due to a sprained ankle, the Nuggets took advantage of the lack of size on the interior. Plumlee finished with a 16-point, 14-rebound double-double.
The Nuggets scored 64 of their 104 in the paint, but couldn’t ever get going from deep, as they only shot 20 percent on 25 attempts.
What’s Next? — The Clippers leave for Utah to face the Jazz on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. PST.