Nuggets earn improbable win against Clippers

Matt Brooks
Writer & Digital Content Specialist

They did it. The Denver Nuggets pulled off one of the most improbable wins of the season.

The Nuggets won on the road against the LA Clippers, 113-104. Not only was Monday's game on the wrong side of a back-to-back, but the team was without three starters: Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon. That didn't stop the defending champions, and they rallied together to pull off one of the most unlikely victories in recent franchise history.

"Tonight was special," head coach Michael Malone succinctly said after the win.

The win helped Denver climb back into the 3-seed in the Western Conference. They're currently on a two-game winning streak.

On an unlikely night, two unlikely heroes stepped forward and shouldered the load for Denver.

Reggie Jackson paced all scorers with 35 points on 15-of-19 shooting to go with 13 assists and 5 rebounds. Jackson became just the fourth player since 2020 to record at least 35 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds on 75 percent shooting. His 35 points were the most he's scored as a Nugget.

"Reggie deserves all the credit. He was in our gym every day this summer. He was there. Sweating with all those young guys. Imparting his wisdom from his years of experience in this league. Getting comfortable with the coaching staff, our terminology, our philosophy," said Malone. "Now, when Jamal Murray goes down with injury, Reggie is out there just kind of running the show and doing it at a very high level."

So, about that other unlikely hero. DeAndre Jordan came into the game with just 24 total minutes under his belt but absolutely filled up the box score with 21 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. He flushed home 7 dunks against LA and paired perfectly with Jackson in the pick-and-roll. His screening jumped off the page throughout the entire night, and the 35-year-old showed off his playmaking chops as a short roller in the pick-and-roll.

"DJ is a dynamic roller, even at this stage of his career," said Malone. "Obviously, from beginning to end, the combination of Reggie and DeAndre in pick-and-roll created a lot of problems for them and gave us a lot of success."

Jordan set the tone early with his screening and rolling. He got on the board with 6 total points, helping Denver shoot a combined 11-of-19 from the field. However, the Clippers cleaned the glass well, ahead 16-9 in that category, allowing them to build a 28-25 lead.

Jackson came alive in the second quarter and popped off for a ridiculous 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting line. This allowed the Nuggets to go on a 23-9 run in the period. At the halftime break, Denver led 58-56.

Denver could not find any sort of rhythm in the third quarter and shot just 28.6 percent from the field. The Clippers, meanwhile, caught fire in the last six minutes of the third and went on a 19-7 run, eventually ending the quarter ahead, 88-77.

Things were looking dire for the Nuggets, but then Jackson and Jordan put the team on their backs in the fourth quarter. Their two-man game continued to cause problems as Jackson zipped by his defenders and Jordan crammed home dunks where no defender could reach him. This allowed the Nuggets to go on a 22-6 run and take the lead just before the halfway point in the quarter.

LA made one last push, but then Michael Porter Jr., who was quiet for most of the night, hit a dagger three-pointer to secure one of the most improbable wins of this young NBA season.