NBA: Can Nuggets carry momentum from OKC win into LA?
With a full day to savor an overtime victory that began with a sizable fourth-quarter rally, the Denver Nuggets head to Los Angeles for their first meeting of the season against the Clippers on Friday night.
The Nuggets trailed by 15 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder before they rallied for an eventual 131-126 victory in the extra period. Aaron Gordon erupted for 17 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, while Nikola Jokic scored 10 of his 39.
Denver shot 57.7 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the fourth quarter and overtime combined to pull off just its second victory in five games. The Nuggets entered just 2-4 over their last six contests following a four-game winning to open November.
Whether the Nuggets are poised for another winning run will depend largely on their health. They pulled off the victory over the Thunder despite playing without starters Jamal Murray (heel) and Michael Porter Jr. (rest). They also were missing Ish Smith (calf), Jeff Green (knee), Bones Hyland (illness) and Payton Watson (illness).
The victory was achieved with 10 active players, nine of whom saw time on the court. Jokic played 43 minutes, while Bruce Brown used his 45 minutes of action to score 17 points with 10 assists and 13 rebounds in his first career triple-double.
“I kept on thinking in the back of my mind, I don’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving with two (consecutive) losses; nothing’s going to taste good on Thanksgiving if we have two losses in a row” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. “This allows you to fly to L.A., have a nice day (Thursday), have a team meal, celebrate and try to take care of some business in L.A.”
The Clippers return home after a 124-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco on Wednesday. The Clippers played without stars Paul George (hamstring) and Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and never threatened after trailing 66-47 at halftime.
Los Angeles received 19 points from Marcus Morris Sr. and 17 points from both Terance Mann and Norman Powell. The defense held Stephen Curry (22 points) well under his season average of 31.6 per game, but Andrew Wiggins had 31 points and went 6 of 10 from 3-point range.
Los Angeles entered the game on a three-game winning streak following Leonard’s return from residual knee soreness after surgery that cost him the entire 2021-22 season, but fell with their team leader out of action again. Sharpshooter Luke Kennard (calf) also was out.
“I wish we were at full strength against anybody,” coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if he was disappointed he could not test his full roster against the Warriors. “Just to get our rhythm and establish how we want to play. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case this year, but it’s coming.”
Leonard’s absence was characterized as precautionary after he rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter of Monday’s home victory over the Utah Jazz, but George has now missed two consecutive games, while Kennard has missed the last four.
Like the Nuggets on Wednesday, the Clippers proceeded with 10 healthy players.
“I like the way we kept fighting,” Lue said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
–Field Level Media