Nuggets four-game win streak snapped, have lost three straight road games since losing Harris and Millsap.
The Denver Nuggets (21-10) lost an ugly one to the Los Angeles Clippers (19-13) 132-111. Despite being ejected in the third quarter Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets in scoring with 19. Meanwhile, the Nuggets couldn’t contain the forwards for the Clippers as Gallinari and Harris had 21 apiece plus 20 from Montrezl Harrell.
The two teams went back in forth early in the quarter but the Clippers created separation and went on their run based on their advantage in second chance points and points in the paint. The Nuggets had good looks from players like Beasley and Hernangomez, though predictably only the stars, Jokic and Murray, had their games going early on the road.
Although the defensive effort was there in spurts, the execution was lacking especially during the Clippers 15-4 run between the 7:23 and 2:49 mark of the first quarter.
Trey Lyles finally sparked the Nuggets bench late in the first quarter to keep the Nuggets within a single-digit deficit. Unfortunately, the Nuggets lacked a spark to put together several stops and offensive possessions in a row. Playing on the road, the lack of depth showed with the Nuggets not being able to successfully find energy in sticking with their rotations over long periods of time.
Jokic struggled to finish in the second quarter and was on the receiving end of some tough calls, and no-calls, until he was finally able to convert an and-one opportunity followed by a show of emotion towards the referee.
With the late energy the Nuggets were able to cut the lead to a manageable six points by the end of the second quarter. Denver would have a chance to take the last shot and ultimately cut the lead to three but an early shot from Jamal and a late foul by Juancho on Tobias Harris’ 3-point attempt with 0.4 seconds to go allowed the Clippers to get back to a nine-point halftime advantage.
The second half didn’t get off to a great start with continued defensive lapses and some lackadaisical offense before Malone called the first timeout of the half.
Out of the timeout, Torrey Craig was extremely active on the offensive glass, creating better opportunities for the Nuggets even when they struggled to finish on their first looks.
Defensively, the Nuggets couldn’t contain Danilo Gallinari as he started to catch fire against his former team. On top of being unable to stop Gallo, the frustration was mounting for Jokic with his continued disappointment and disgust with the officiating against him. After a push was called on Jokic on the baseline he became very animated and began arguing to the official to the point where Juancho reached to cover Jokic’s mouth. Juancho’s effort wouldn’t be enough as Jokic would receive the quick and questionable ejection off of one technical.
The Nuggets had a great opportunity for the rest of the game to compete and experiment with their small lineup after Plumlee picked up his fourth foul. The issue was that Denver never truly figured out their defensive switches and couldn’t get the ball in the basket on their end.
Thomas Welsh was a bright spot at the end of the game showing his range from mid-range and the 3-point line as Boban flat out refused to guard him on the perimeter down the stretch.
The Nuggets just didn’t have it tonight in an afternoon lull but will have plenty of time to refocus before hitting the road in San Antonio on Wednesday.