Clippers Best Nuggets 121-108 In Christmas Day Rematch

by | Dec 26, 2020 | Editorial Pick, Sports Report

A rematch of last season’s Western Conference Semifinals had a different result this time around, with the Los Angeles Clippers holding on to a late lead to beat the Denver Nuggets 121-108.

The game started competitively, with Nikola Jokic and Paul George matching each other with 10 first quarter points. Then the Clippers started to run away with the game, ballooning their lead to 24 points by the late third quarter. Jamal Murray struggled again with only 4 points and 3 fouls in the first half, but came alive with 13 points in the fourth during a furious Nuggets comeback. The Nuggets cut the Clipper’s lead to 11 multiple times, but couldn’t quite get it under double digits to complete the comeback.

The story of the game was the Clippers’ dominance on the glass and from beyond the arc. Denver got outrebounded for the second straight game, including being outrebounded 25-11 in the first half. In addition, the Clippers shot 50% from the 3-point line for the game, compared to the Nuggets 30%.

Mike Malone stressed the importance of intensity during a game when the Nuggets seemed to struggle for long stretches, saying in his postgame press conference, “You can’t play three quarters in this league and expect to win. We played three quarters against Sacramento and lost, and we played three quarters tonight and lost.” Jamal Murray echoed his coach’s message, saying, “We can have a bad, you know, streak or timeout…but we can’t have a whole quarter where we’re just not there, especially against a good team.”

Kawhi Leonard had an efficient night for the Clippers, scoring 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting, and was injured in the fourth quarter during a collision with Serge Ibaka on a rebound. The game was stopped to treat Leonard, and the broadcast showed blood on his mouth, shoulder, and the court. It is reported that Leonard had to get 8 stitches for a mouth laceration. (Source: ESPN twitter) Nuggets coach Mike Malone wished Kawhi well after the game.

This was not the start to the season the Nuggets anticipated, and they will be looking to make adjustments and find some answers going forward. Coach Malone put it best: “We’re 0 and 2. Hopefully we’ll find a way against Houston to come out from the get-go and sustain it.”

Nuggets-Rockets is Monday night at 9PM Eastern.