Clippers fall to Nuggets, 123-96
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets breezed past the cold-shooting Los Angeles Clippers 123-96 Sunday behind Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap for their fourth consecutive victory.
Jokic had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and Millsap had 21 points and 16 boards, doing much of his damage after Jokic took a seat two minutes into the third quarter with his fourth foul.
Their combined 43 points and 32 rebounds helped the Nuggets improve to 26-4 at home and pull within a game of the Western Conference-leading Golden State Warriors.
At 41-18, the Nuggets are also three games ahead of the third-place Oklahoma City Thunder, who visit Denver on Tuesday night.
Lou Williams scored 24 and Danilo Gallinari had 19 for the Clippers, who couldn’t capitalize on Denver’s uncharacteristic 22 turnovers and 12 missed free throws because they were ice cold themselves.
The Clippers made just 3 of 24 3-pointers.
The Clippers came out cold from the opening tip, falling behind 12-2, and again after halftime, spotting the Nuggets a 10-0 run that made it 74-56 before Gallinari’s bucket at the 8:03 mark.
During Denver’s big third-quarter run, Mason Plumlee found himself unguarded at the top of the key and banked a 3-pointer, just his second of the season, triggering a timeout by the Clippers.
Gary Harris, who returned Friday after missing seven games with a right adductor strain, came off the bench and scored 14 points in 22 minutes.
The Clippers managed to tie it at 45 in the second quarter, but never could go ahead.
After a pair of free throws by Jokic put Denver back ahead 47-45, Gallinari missed a 3-pointer that would have given the Clippers their first lead. Will Barton sank a 3-pointer and Gallinari turned it over, leading to Jamal Murray’s 3-pointer. And, just like that, it was 53-45.
Clippers: Los Angeles missed all 12 of its 3-point attempts in the first half and was 0 for 14 by the time they finally made one — Lou Williams’ 3 made at the 6:11 mark of the third quarter cut Denver’s lead to 80-64. … The Clippers lost the season series 3-1.
Nuggets: Jokic missed a layup with 11 seconds left in the second half and felt a foul should have been called. He stepped in front of official Courtney Kirkland on his way back downcourt and then pleaded his case again, well after the halftime buzzer. He continued jawing with Kirkland in the second half after his reach-around foul, his fourth, sent him to the bench just two minutes into the second half.
Clippers: Host Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.
Nuggets: Host Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.