Clippers, even with stars, prove no match for Nuggets

Jamal Murray unloaded 18 points, Bones Hyland added 16, and the host Denver Nuggets used a big first half to rout the Los Angeles Clippers, 122-91, on Thursday night, January 5 (Friday, January 6, Manila time).

Vlatko Cancar had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Aaron Gordon and Zeke Nnaji each scored 13 points, Nikola Jokic finished with 12 points and 9 assists, and Michael Porter Jr. added 10 points for Denver. The Nuggets have won 11 of their past 14 games.

Norman Powell scored 13 points, Moses Brown had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Terance Mann also had 12 points for the Clippers, who lost their fourth straight despite having Paul George and Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. 

George scored 3 points and Leonard had 6, and neither played in the second half as the Nuggets pulled away by 34 points, 66-32, at the break. No Los Angeles starter scored in double figures.

The Nuggets took control with an early flurry by Murray. After Leonard hit two free throws to make it 10-7, Murray hit a three-pointer, a 10-foot floater in the lane, another shot from behind the arc, a stepback 16-footer and a pull-up trey to make it 23-13.

Hyland and Cancar hit three-pointers to cap off a 12-0 run that gave Denver a 32-13 lead with a minute to go in the first quarter.

The Nuggets went ahead by 23 early in the second quarter on another three-pointer, this one from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, before Los Angeles scored four straight to make it 42-23.

But Denver pulled away from there, Caldwell-Pope hitting consecutive three-pointers and Cancar scoring on a dunk before the Clippers called timeout down 50-23.

The Nuggets kept the pressure on, however. Hyland made three free throws and a pair of tripless around a layup by Bruce Brown to cap a 19-0 run that gave them a 61-23 lead with 3:57 left in the half.

George’s only made basket in the game, a three-pointer with 14.8 seconds left in the half, made it 66-32 at intermission.

After Los Angeles scored 9 points in the first two-plus minutes in the third quarter, Denver called a timeout then went on a 9-0 run to make it 82-41 less than two minutes later.

The Clippers made it 90-55, but the Nuggets ended the third quarter on a 12-4 run to lead by 43 heading to the fourth.

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