Nothing in this season is pretty for the Nuggets. Tuesday’s loss to the Clippers could be the ugliest yet.
The Nuggets lost a 25-point lead in the second half, collapsing in a terrible 87-85 loss to Los Angeles.
Nikola Jokic’s last-second 3-point try was unsuccessful and Aaron Gordon’s takedown attempt was called off. It would have saved a horrible performance in the second half.
“We have a very good player who we can’t put the ball to,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We had a lot of guys looking a little nervous in there as they cranked up their pressure.”
As Denver’s offense crumbled, shattering 3 points and protecting the ball like they’ve already secured the win, the Clippers found their 3-point shot. Los Angeles buried 10 on the 3-point line, almost all of them in the second half.
This marred Gordon’s performance at 30 points, 12 rebounds and made Jokic’s night of 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists meaningless. The Nuggets ended the night with 19 turnovers, including five from Jokic.
Now 20-19, the loss ended Denver’s two-game winning streak.
The Nuggets played downhill, attacking basketball to start the third quarter and pulling off an 11-4 streak. Thanks to Jokic, the Nuggets took a record 59-34 lead before the wheels fell off. As turnovers mounted, including several instances where the Nuggets failed to capitalize on a Jokic lag on the inside, the Clippers began to chisel. A 21-3 run in Los Angeles changed the color of the game and brought Los Angeles to life.
Marcus Morris, the brother of Heat veteran Markieff Morris, was at the heart of it. His blatant first-half over Austin Rivers set a physical tone as he threw a forearm towards Rivers’ neck area. As Los Angeles returned to the game, Morris’s mere presence provided an underlying tension throughout. The Nuggets held a slim 66-55 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Malone praised his team for their resilience in the ever-changing climate of the NBA season. Ahead of the game, he noted that despite the havoc wreaked by COVID, the Nuggets were 5-2 in their last seven games.
“The number of moves that have been done over the past two weeks just seems just crazy,” said Malone. “… It definitely makes it tough when guys come up and meet you on the road and, you know, we give out ‘Hello, my name is’ stickers that anyone can wear, so we get a feel for who? is who. “
On Tuesday, that meant incorporating Rodney McGruder, who came to Denver via the Bol Bol trade, and James Ennis, who signed a 10-day hardship agreement. Malone thanked the two veterans for quickly absorbing the concepts during Tuesday’s shootout.
The first half was hardly an attacking masterpiece on either side, but the Nuggets fought for their 41-28 lead at halftime. The botched and rambling offense only magnified Jokic’s importance.
As usual, he controlled every element of the game. With seven points, eight rebounds and four assists, he won in the glass where the Nuggets had a marked advantage, 35-18, over the first two quarters. When he got the ball in his hands, he dissected the defense and waited a moment of vulnerability for Clipper.
This led to several backdoor baskets, which became more prominent as the offensive came to a halt.
Gordon planted inside and headed for halftime with 12 points and six rebounds.