Nuggets Best Clippers, Win Streak at 4

The Denver Nuggets scored 14 of the game’s first 16 points on their way to downing the Los Angeles Clippers 123-96 Sunday afternoon at Pepsi Center.

While Denver jumped out to a nice lead by the 7:52 mark of the first quarter, it wasn’t all smooth sailing from that point on. Los Angeles, winners of its previous two games, battled back to pull to within one point of the lead just less than five minutes later.

The Nuggets (41-18) would need another run to put the Clippers, who are fighting to hold on to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, away for good. After leading by seven after one, the Nuggets found themselves in a tied ball game at 45 all with 5:42 to go in the second.

Highlighted by 3-pointers from point guard Jamal Murray and wing Will Barton, Denver would reel off 11-straight in a 1:57 span and eventually took 64-56 lead into the break.

Once again, Denver broke the game open in the third, when the Nuggets outscored Los Angeles 33-21 to build a 20-point cushion, heading into the fourth.

“I thought in that third quarter, we didn’t foul. We talked about defending without fouling, coming out of the break,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “And now we got stops and we’re rebounding, gang rebounding. We got out ran. We’re one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA and the last two games have really shown that. And I think that’s a big reason our offense has taken off.”

Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokić led the way Denver, recording his 41st double-double of the season, scoring 22 Points on 9-for-16 shooting to go along with 16 rebounds while playing 28 minutes. Power forward Paul Millsap dominated the interior with 16 rebounds to go along with 21 points to log his third-straight double-double.

“We’re coming out and doing what we set out to do and that’s always great,” Millsap said. “It’s another game, another win. We’ll take it. We’re on to the next one. We’ll continue to try to compound wins as much as we can.”

Jamal Murray (16), Gary Harris (14), Monte Morris (12) and Isaiah Thomas (10) all finished in double-figures in scoring for Denver, which logged its fourth-straight victory.

Super substitute Clippers guard Lou Williams led all scorers with 24 points, while going a perfect 11 of 11 from the free-throw line. Former Nugget Danilo Gallinari added 19 and newly acquired JaMychal Green scored 13 as Los Angeles dropped to 33-28.

The Nuggets limited the Clippers, who came in the contest second in the NBA in team 3-point field goal percentage at 38.7 percent, to 3-for-21 shooting from deep. The Nuggets also out rebounded the Clippers 56-38 and won the points-in-the-paint battle 58-44.

With the win, Denver clinched the season series 3-1.

The Nuggets host the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. The game will be broadcasted live on TNT.

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