Tooth and Nail
The Los Angeles Clippers clawed their way to a Game 3 win against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night, overturning a 4-point deficit entering the fourth quarter and emerging with a 113-107 win.
Precious few points came from Kawhi Leonard, however.
The Clippers front man finished the game with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but went an ice-cold 1-of-7 from the field in the game's final frame.
Coming on the heels of a goose egg in the fourth quarter of Game 2, Leonard's lackluster clutch performances have caught the eye of Nick Wright.
On the plus side, Leonard did have an all-time moment late Monday night, when he blocked a Jamal Murray dunk attempt with his middle finger.
Leonard's block maintained a 6-point lead late with under two minutes left for LA, and on Tuesday morning, Tim Legler put the play in perspective.
"Isn't it a luxury to have your two-guard as your last line of defense? ... It goes to show you what a special player he is and his commitment ... We talk about 'The Klaw' all the time – that 'Klaw' was reduced to one finger."
The block served to solidify Kawhi's nickname of "The Klaw," and after the game, teammate Paul George was in awe of Kawhi's defiance of the laws of human anatomy.
"That's an extra-long middle finger. It kept growing or something."
Speaking of George, he got it done for the Clippers on both ends of the floor.
"Playoff P" paced the Clips with 32 points, while also keeping Denver's perimeter threats at bay — a vintage effort on both sides of the ball, to hear Shannon Sharpe tell it.
"Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, PG took Jamal Murray exclusively – not Kawhi ... If Kawhi is gonna struggle ... you can win if Paul George gives you that."
As for the Nuggets, they'll need more consistency out of Murray to battle back in the series.
A breakout star in the NBA's bubble, Murray had a woeful Game 3 with 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting, including a paltry 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Brandon Marshall believes if Murray could've found a steady rhythm, we'd be looking at a different series.
Will the Nuggets be able to find their mojo in Game 4 and even up the back-and-forth Western Conference semifinal?
FOX Bet's insights lean toward the Clippers winning out 4-1 at -162 and have Kawhi & Co. as 8-point favorites in Game 4.
But if the bubble's taught us anything, it's that the Nuggets won't go down without a fight.