The Nuggets and Clippers were tied after the first quarter in Thursday night’s opening game of the Western Conference semifinals, from that point on L.A. outscored Denver by 23 and rolled to an easy 120-97 win.
Nuggets center Nikola Jokić struggled on both ends of the floor in the loss as he finished with just 15 points, three rebounds and three assists. While first-round series star Jamal Murray shot 5-for-15 from the field and ended with 12 points, six assist and three boards.
Clippers at full strength
As for the Clippers, Los Angeles head coach Doc Rivers had his entire roster intact for just the 13th time the season and the first since arriving to the NBA bubble.
Guard Patrick Beverley returned after missing the final five games of L.A.’s first-round series against Dallas. Marcus Morris was no longer having to try and keep up with Dallas’ Luka Dončić and stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were in a rhythm early.
“I thought we just locked into our assignments. To be honest, that’s the best we’ve done so far against an opponent. Our attention to detail was great and we followed the game plan … It just took us to lock in tonight and come here and do what we needed to do. There’s no sugar-coating answer or no headline answer. We just locked into what we needed to do, And that was enough for us to play with energy and effort. We just knew what our job was tonight and we executed it.”George said after the Clippers win in Game 1.
Nuggets fell into L.A.’s trap
According to Nuggets forward Paul Millsap Denver was unable to adjust to the Clippers pressure defense.
“They get up in you, they take you out of the flow of your offense, and they make you take one-on-one or contested shots and we fell right into their trap.”Millsap said.
Meanwhile, Nuggets coach Michael Malone was much more concerned with the Nuggets inability to guard on the defensive end and for teammates to help out when needed.
“Can we contain one-on-one, and can we guard the paint?. A guy gets beat, where’s our help?”Malone said.
Nuggets-Clippers Game 1 highlights
As TheAthletic.com’s Kendra Andrews wrote, after getting blown out in Game 1 the Nuggets need to find answers and energy as well.
- The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla wrote that there was no defending the way Jokić played in Thursday’s opener.
- In other NBA news Thursday, Memphis’ Ja Morant was named the Kia Rookie of the Year. Miami’s Kendrick Nunn finished second and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson was third.
I was a little surprised Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. didn’t even get a single third-place vote, considering players like Eric Paschall (Golden State), Terence Davis II (Toronto) and RJ Barrett (New York) did.
Nuggets-Clippers results and schedule
|Game 1||Clippers 120, Nuggets 97||Box score|
|Game 2||Nuggets 110, Clippers 101||Box score|
|Game 3||Clippers 113, Nuggets 107||Box score|
|Game 4||Clippers 96, Nuggets 85||Box score|
|Game 5||Nuggets 111, Clippers 105||Box score|
|Game 6||Nuggets 111, Clippers 98||Box score|
|Game 7||Nuggets 104, Clippers 89||Box score|
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